Today’s guest blog comes from Jack Hadley, CEO of Lava7 and an adjunct professor at BYU. We frequently hear about educators using Ning in the classroom, but it’s rare to find out just how effective using a Ning Network in a school setting is. That’s why it was so exciting to read a recent post from Jack, explaining how he used a Ning Network in an advertising class he taught at BYU. Jack’s post not only included how he used it, but what his students thought of it — and if they’d recommend it. After reading, we asked him to pen a similar post for the Ning Blog.
Powerful social media tools like Ning, Twitter, blogging and Ustream aren’t just for socializing and marketing. They facilitate fundamental shifts in the way people are connecting and communicating—shifts that can improve university learning.
I just completed a four-month exercise in a Comms230 class I teach at Brigham Young University. I designed and built a Ning network (with the help of our Lava7 team) to use as the foundation for our class. My goal was threefold—to better engage students with the subject matter (and with each other), to help students begin creating personal online brands, and to digitally centralize and manage day-to-day class functions.
There were 49 students enrolled in our class. Last week I asked them to answer three questions about their experience using our Ning network. It’s important to note that I instructed them NOT to put their names on their responses. I wanted candid, honest feedback without brownie-point undertones. 43 students were in attendance that day.
A representative handful of those responses are highlighted in the boxes below.
The three questions I asked were open ended:
- What did you like, or not like, about the Ning network we used this semester in class?
- What did you like, or not like, about blogging on our Ning network this semester.
- Would this type of social network be useful in your other classes? Why, or why not?
100 percent of the students (43 of 43) answered “yes” to question #3 (and included supporting reasons). Approximately 98 percent of the 140+ comments I received could be described as “enthusiastically positive” about their experience.
Most of the students in our class had never blogged before. Hundreds of posts and comments later, blogging was the network component that made the biggest difference and had the most profound effect on their experience. My advice? If you use a Ning network in a university class, encourage (or better yet, require) blogging.
The Beginnings of Personal Online Brands
Teach students the concept of creating personal, online brands. It doesn’t matter what subject you teach. New media tools have changed the rules. What happens in Vegas no longer stays in Vegas. Help students discover how to use social media tools to their advantage. Your Ning class network can be a great starting point.