Are you looking for an online tool to build a community for your volunteers, students, followers, customers, readers, supporters or fans? Ning could be a great choice. As an educator, Ning has drew my attention as a valuable tool to build a learning community in the classroom or in the school. Ning.com is a social networking site which is similar to Facebook environment but more suitable for school usage. In China, Facebook is blocked, and Ning could be a useful alternative networking site for educational use if it could be accessed.
Ning is very user-friendly and no technical skill is needed. This will be a great advantage if elementary students would like to use this online tool. The creators could decide the site’ functionality, appearance, and whether they want it to be public or private. Another important feature of Ning is its social integration. The built-in integration to other social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube makes it easy to maximize the reach and connect to people who don’t use Ning. For example, as a university teacher who sometimes teach senior students, I always find it difficult to reach all students as senior students are usually busy with internship, job-hunting, graduation paper writing and etc. In this case, I do not need to bring together all of these students who have different schedules and may probably scatter in different places. All I need to do is ask them to use their current social network tool to link to my Ning.
Ning provides a great opportunity for academic use. For example, like The English Companion Ning, People could form a new community wtith those like-minded. By building a community around a specific topic or project, Ning could let students create their own social networks and learn how to cultivate and sustain a community of users that might resemble professional contacts and relationships.