Creating a Social Network: The Walled Garden Approach


Session Description

Bethany Smith, College of Education at NC State with Amira Fouad, Sheryl Grant, Dianne Krause and Dean Mantz

Social networking with Ning. Learn some tips and tricks for getting started and ideas for use.

21st-century Teaching & Learning—Web/Internet/Web 2.0
Technology Integration Specialists, Technology Facilitators, Technology Coordinators, Teacher Educators, Teachers, School Board Members, Superintendents, Staff Developers, Principals, Library Media Specialists, Curriculum Specialists, Chief Technology Officers
3, 5
ning, social networking, education, collaboration
Purpose & Objectives
Social Networking is a powerful tool both in and out of the classroom. Facebook has over 100 million users, but how do we leverage a Social Networking System (SNS) for education purposes? Participants will be able to create their own Ning network after this session in a few simple steps, as well as get expertise on growing their new community. The panelists for this session will share why they have created a Ning-based social network and how they are using it with their school or organization.

The following Nings, and their purpose will be discussed:
The College of Education at NC State is utilizing Ning to leverage the the popularity of these SNS, such as MySpace and Facebook, in a more professional environment with their pre-service teachers. Their goal is to encourage discourse and sharing both in and out of the classroom. Students are grouped not just by class or course in the Ning network, but by interest and social groups.
The HASTAC/MacArthur Digital Media & Learning Winners' Hub uses Ning in order to create a public learning experience. Winners report to the hub as their projects evolve and create a "learning legacy" that serves successive winners and others in the digital media and learning community.
RezEd is a Ning- supported community of practice that brings attention to the myriad ways virtual worlds are being used for learning in various settings. It covers both commercial and educational virtual worlds through news updates; multimedia resources; a podcast series with youth, theorists, world builders, practitioners and experts in the field; a curated best practice report series, various digital media resources, guest-moderated discussions, etc. In addition, knowledge is generated and shared as members contribute photos and videos, facilitate special interest groups, and manage personal blogs.
The Wissahickon School District uses Ning as a professional learning network for faculty and staff of the district. The Ning network is for sharing, collaboration, support and communication district-wide. Groups are created for each grade level, school, department and other special-interest audiences. Resources are shared amongst colleagues in different buildings and grade-levels. Wissahickon is also exploring the use of Nings with students and its implications on pedagogy and learning.
The Future Kansas Teachers Scouting Ning was designed by ESSDACK to allow talented future teachers to be discovered and recruited by great districts.

Outline (for Open Source Lab)
I. Introduction (30 min)
a. What is Ning?
b. Who is using Ning?
i. Teacher Educators
ii. Public learning experiences (vs. closed door narrative reports)
iii. Teacher Collaboration
iv. Student Projects
II. Why Ning? (10 min)
a. Why not Facebook or MySpace?
b. How does Ning support community?
c. Ease of use as a tool - administering & user side
i. Brief overview of the tool
ii. Privacy and publicity on Ning - both are possible
iii. What it means to own a Ning social network
III. Lessons Learned (10 min)

Supporting Research
(2008,4,23). 7 things you should know about Ning. Educause Connect, Retrieved October 5, 2008, from
Boyd, D. M., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). ‘Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship’. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 11. Accessed 30th August 2008,
Griffith, S, & Liyanage, L. (2008). An introduction to the potential of social networking sites in education. In I. Olney, G. Lefoe, J. Mantei, & J. Herrington (Eds.), Proceedings of the Second Emerging Technologies Conference 2008 (pp. 76-81. Wollongong: University of Wollongong.
Mazer, J. P., Murphy, R.E., & Simonds, C.J. (2007) ‘I’ll see you on “Facebook”: The Effects of Computer-Mediated Teacher Self-Disclosure on Student Motivation, Affective Learning, and Classroom Climate’. Communication Education, 56:1, 1- 17. Available from: Accessed 15th
September 2008.
Selwyn, Neil (2007). Screw Blackboard... do it on Facebook!’: an investigation of students’ educational use of Facebook paper presented to the ‘Poke 1.0 - Facebook social research symposium’,
University of London, 15th November 2007

Presenter Background
Bethany Smith is the Asst. Director of Learning Technologies for the College of Education at NC State University. She has worked in Middle School & High Schools, as well as Industry, before coming to work at the College of Education. Bethany conducts technology integration training both at the university and state-wide level.

Dean Mantz was Director of Technology for USD 405 in Lyons, Kansas. Dean has recently taken a position with USD 376 in Sterling, KS. He conducts technology integration trainings with teachers from a variety of fields to help create interesting lessons to education-impacting problems. Prior to his current position, he served as the Assistant Director of Technology and was the lead instructor for the Rice County Technology Academy.

Dianne Krause is the Instructional Technology Specialist and Classrooms for the Future Coach at Wissahickon School District in Ambler, PA. She
works with teachers district-wide to best integrate technology into their teaching and to develop 21st century skills in students. Prior to this position, Dianne was a French teacher recognized as a Keystone Technology Integrator for her technology integration into her courses.

Amira Fouad, Program Manager for, the Hub for Learning and Virtual Worlds, a network launched by Global Kids Inc. in March of 2008. Amira worked as a facilitator for the Project Tolerance Fellowship and the National Coalition Building Institute in programs utilizing conflict mitigation and informal education as a vehicle for peace building and community development.

Sheryl Grant is the Director of Social Networking for HASTAC/MacArthur Digital Media & Learning. She is a former instructor for UNC-ITS Teaching & Learning, and coordinator for the Community Workshop Series, an award-winning program serving free information literacy workshops to the general public.