(Warning, this post contains really bad puns!)
EG-353 – an Engineering Research Project module, has been using the Ning social networking platform all year as part of an e-learning enhancement project on Peer Support and Assessment. On 15th April, I will be presenting a Staff Development Unit Lunch and Learn session in which I plan to show you how it was done, how it went and how you could do it too.
Although it’s only a fortnight away, I’ve only just started thinking about what I’d actually do in the presentation. But having started to plan, I thought that it would be relevant to the audience and the Learning Lab if I was to create, live before your very eyes, a Ning site for SALT/Learning Lab.
Although the Learning Lab has some social features, namely a delicious network, group blog, wiki, Google-driven open social blog following features, RSS feed aggregation, Facebook page and Twitter stream, it’s still pretty much a web site and isn’t what most people would today understand as a social network.
Ning is a free (that is advertising funded) Internet application that allows you to create your own custom social network for your own purposes. I’ve been using it, as the opening paragraph of this post implies, as a test-bed for a student peer support network. I think that it might work to improve communications amongst learning and teaching staff here at Swansea and to strengthen the community of practice on campus.
I propose a four step recipe
- Preparation via prototype
- Launch and learn(!)
- Main course
As part of the preparation for the Lunch and Learn session, I have created a prototype/sandbox Ning site which I’ve called Sea-Salt (pun intended). If you are interested in exploring Ning either as a user or an administrator, or you would just like to come to my session and want to see what a Ning network feels like, drop me a line at C.P.Jobling at Swansea.ac.uk and I’ll create an account for you.
Launch and Learn
In the how it’s done part of the session, you will see me creating the proposed SALT Ning. If you’re coming to the session, you can become the first members of the SALT Ning when it goes live. You’ll need to send me your Swansea University email in advance, and you’ll will need a laptop and/or a smart phone that’s connected via WiFi to campus email to complete the registration during the session.
In the rest of the session, I propose for the how you can do it too part of the session to show you the features that you have as a member of the Ning network, and some of the administration features that you would have access to in your own class-based Ning.
The how it went section will give some tips and tricks that I’ve learned or picked up about creating and maintaining community engagement.
If there’s any time left, I might mention some of the alternatives to Ning that you might want to try instead.
Lunch is included!
If this post has whetted your appetite, you can sign up for the session by contacting Sue Ace in SDU by email (S.V.Ace at Swansea.ac.uk) or phone (01792 295762). The session is called “A Beginner’s Introduction to Social Engineering” and it takes place between 13.00 and 14.00 on Thursday 15 April in the Staff Development Unit.
This is very much a proposal, so if you have any comments about the proposed session, objections to using Ning for SALT, or anything else, the comment field below awaits your feedback.