Ning social network platform

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1 Definition

Ning is a (commercial) platform that allows the creation of social networks.

“Ning is a platform for creating your own social networks. Our passion is putting new social networks in the hands of anyone with a good idea. With Ning, your social network can be anything and for anyone. You start by choosing a combination of features (videos, blogs, photos, forums, etc.) from an ever-growing list of options. Then customize how it looks, decide if it's public or private, and add your brand logo if you have one. People who join your network will automatically have a customizable profile page and will be able to message and friend each other.” (About Ning, retrieved 20:34, 16 December 2007 (MET)).


Ning hopes to compete with large social sites like MySpace and Facebook, by appealing to users who want to create networks around specific interests or have limited technical skills. The unique feature of Ning is that anyone can create their own custom social network for a particular topic or need, catering to specific audiences.

[...]

(Ning (Wikipedia, retrieved 20:34, 16 December 2007 (MET)).

In the past (before April 2010) Ning used to have “two primary business models. One allows users to create a network for free, in exchange for the network hosting ads that Ning supplies. The other, their "Ning for Business" option, offers users a network where they control the ad content (or lack thereof), in exchange for a monthly fee. A few other premium services such as extra storage and bandwidth and non-Ning URLs are also available for additional monthly fees.” (Ning (Wikipedia, retrieved 20:34, 16 December 2007 (MET)).

Currently (summer 2010), all Ning offers are commercial (after a 30 day trial period). Offers range from $3/month to $50/month. The $3 version should be ok for use by a single teacher with a class. Currently, there exist some free alternatives to Ning. However, no web 2.0 service is guaranteed to remain free or to last...

2 In education

Ning is somewhat popular in education, since it does not have the unscholarly reputation of better known similar systems like FaceBooks. Also, a teacher may create his very own networks over which he has full control.

E.g. regarding social networking in physics, Steve Dickie (a schoolteacher) provides us with the following rationale (retrived dec 16 2007)

  1. Engagement: Students today are online a lot. I want to leverage their interest in the internet and MySpace/Facebook. I'm hoping that by tying my class to a social network I may be able to excite them in ways I can't do in class.
  2. Power: I will be encouraging them to share ideas and ask questions through the social network. We are building a community of learning here and we can only do that if they are helping each other. Every day a student (from each class) will post a summary of the notes/activities for the day. This should help while preparing for exams as well as aid those students who are absent.
  3. Portfolios: Students can upload pictures and videos. I will be encouraging them to do this often. I'm not sure Ning is the right platform for a personal portfolio and I'm not sure I want to require a formal portfolio. That said, I will be asking students to document much of their work and to share that documentation through Ning.

One advantage of Ning is also the fact that it is quite open for programmers (it has an API, and you also can modify php code).

3 Links

3.1 Official Ning

3.2 Alternatives

  • Services like LinkedIn or Facebook (to some extend only)
  • SocialGo (free version with ads and limited features)
  • BigTent (a group organization tool, i.e. only members can access your site)

3.3 About Ning

3.4 Examples - educators

3.5 Examples - teaching

  • ?

3.6 Various web pages and blog entries