I've joined a couple of social networks in the last 24 hours, both powered by Ning. The first was the OSUM network I blogged about on Thursday. The second was Classroom 2.0, a network dedicated to, not surprisingly, using Web 2.0 tools like Ning in education.
Ning has come a very long way since the last time I blogged about this "roll-your-own-MySpace" service. The interface is slick and it's become one heck of a platform for very quickly building social networking sites.
I stumbled across Classroom 2.0 after reading an interesting article in the Village Voice on innovating learning efforts in the New York City Public Schools. These schools, instead of keeping kids out of social networking spaces and prohibiting the use of cell phones, were teaching kids how to use technology in an effective and relevant way. Referring to the teachers in these schools, the article notes,
They join a hodgepodge group of educational-technology mavens around the country peddling the promise of the new technology. The group mostly gathers (surprise!) online, through blogs, YouTube, and social-networking sites, including one called Classroom 2.0, where more than 12,000 members share ideas ranging from their thoughts on John Dewey to tips on how to import shots of their computer screens into PowerPoint presentations. The idea that unites them is that new technologies not only move learning from papers to screens, but also enable a transformation in the way students learn.
Actually, I was number 13,000 tonight. The site itself is quite robust with a huge variety of content and a lot of educators who buck what remains a very typical approach to education (meaning that it's fine to type your term papers using a computer, but Google Docs or blogging an essay is way outside the comfort zone of the average teacher/administrator).
In fact, this article has inspired me to revisit Ning. I think it just might be time for the teachers in my district to have their own social network. I'll get back to you on that one.