Category Archives: Ning Network Spotlight

Business Fights Poverty: A Community With a Cause

Business Fights Poverty - A social impact community built on the Ning PlatformBusiness Fights Poverty was established in March of 2008 to pioneer new ways of fighting poverty utilizing economic and business opportunities by groups and individuals. Founder and Director, Zahid Torres-Rahman discovered and implemented the perfect platform for his idea through a chance conversation and a day’s worth of work. “A technology guru friend of mine first told me about Ning over breakfast, and by dinner I had set up the community.” Since its creation, the community has continued to evolve and expand its public profile. Business Fights Poverty has bloomed from 1,000 members after one year to more than 10,000 members today.

Openness, community, professionalism, respect, and integrity are the five core values that drive this vibrant network of business professionals, academics, philanthropists, and non-government organizations – all of whom share a passion for fighting poverty through business. Business Fights Poverty utilizes inspiring blogs from members, face-to-face events, and a powerful resource hub to captivate potential members and engage current ones. Their community also serves as the central station for public outreach via social outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin. All these components have come together to make it the largest organization of its kind and a vital resource in the fight against poverty.

Zahid Torres-Rahman

We reached out to Zahid Torres-Rahman to get the inside scoop on how his community has grown and helped created a brand with public impact:

What made you start your Ning community?

All around the world exceptional people are finding new ways to fight poverty – by creating new jobs and economic opportunities in low-income communities.   The challenge we set ourselves back in 2008 was to help turn these individual acts of inspiration into a broader movement for change.   We wanted to build a sense of community by connecting these intense, but often dispersed pockets of energy.  We wanted people to be able to find, engage with, learn from and be inspired by like-minded peers.  Ning made this all possible for us – by offering an affordable and easy way to build an online community.

Have you achieved this original objective?  How else has your community helped you and your business, brand or mission?

I think we have come a long way. We’re now the largest community of our kind, with a brand that is steadily growing in profile.  We publish a great story every day, and pretty much all of these come from community members.  We are increasingly active in the real world too, with face-to-face events and publications.  At the same time, I feel that we are only at the beginning of an exciting journey.   We are constantly trying to learn and improve.  We recently hired FeverBee, following a Ning webinar (which you can watch again here), and they have been giving us some great advice on enhancing our member engagement.

If you had to pick one measure of the success or impact of your community, what would it be?

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We track all the usual metrics about visits and member engagement, but for me nothing beats the personal stories that I hear from members about howthe community has helped them – whether to find a new job; connect with potential project partners; or just to be inspired by what others are doing.  I enjoy reading what our Members of the Week say they hope to get out of being part of the community.

How long did it take your community to reach critical mass?

It took us a year to reach 1,000 and four more to reach 10,000.  But one thing we have come to appreciate is that it’s the number of actively engaged members that matters, and that’s where our energy is now focused.  The great thing about Ning is that by massively bringing down the costs of organizing online, it has made it possible to create successful, small, specialist communities.

What tactics drove the most growth and activity in your community?

We have focused our energy on three areas. The first has been on building the community brand.  We worked with professional graphic designers to develop a strong look and feel for the site, and we invest in great photography to illustrate stories on the site. The second area is around content.  We have put a lot of energy into our editorial calendar – to build up a strong flow of timely, high quality and interesting content, primarily from our own members.  We drive traffic to this content through our weeklSocial Mediay broadcast messages, and we are also very active on Twitter (@FightPoverty) and other social media sites. The third area is around member engagement. Every year, we have an active programme of face-to-face and online events, such as webinars.  Through our “Member of Week” and “Star Member” initiatives, we profile our most active members.  We have high hopes for our new member’s Forum, and have other ideas in the pipeline to encourage member interaction.

What feature(s) are most important to your members?

Right now, our blog is the most popular feature on our site, followed by our events.  Over the next few months, we are looking to grow our forum as a way to generate more member-to-member engagement. We’ll also be more closely integrating our offline and online activities – so for example, we’ll be running online discussions linked to our face-to-face events. Following member feedback, we’ll also be launching a jobs board.

Do you have any advice for other people building online communities?

We recognized early on that community management is a full-time and professional activity!  Continuous investment of time and effort is needed to encourage member activity and network growth. On top of that, listening and responding to what your members want is critical.   Recognizing when things are not working is important too! For us, we have been on a continuous learning journey, and are constantly looking to improve the site. I am a fan of the Ning Creators Network – and have picked up many great tips there.

What’s the craziest story you have about your community?

The craziest story is from our first day. A technology guru friend of mine first told me about Ning over breakfast, and by dinner I had set up the community. I was the first member and my wife was the second. I remember telling the third member – a colleague of mine who was working for a charity at the time, “I know you are only member number 3, but I promise that one day there will be many more of us!”

There is an African proverb that has been an inspiration to me: if you want to travel fast, travel alone. If you want to travel far, travel together.  For me that is at the heart of what the global Business Fights Poverty community is about, and I am excited about what the future holds.  I believe that for all the amazing things we are doing individually, if we can do more together – as part of a movement for change, the possibilities are limitless.

Nerd Alert! Nerdfighters Using the Power of Community to Increase Awesome and Decrease Suck

We were thrilled to hear a story about Nerdfighters on the radio this morning (WAMU in Washington, D.C.) about their ongoing campaign to make the world a better place using wonderful services like the micro-loan site Kiva. Take a listen:

Not familiar with Nerdfighters? It’s one of those online phenomenons that makes some people scratch their heads and wonder how it is that a rarified group of Internet celebrities can live their lives — and maybe even make a living — by simply existing on the Internet.

This list of Internet celebrities includes Rhett & Link, Smosh, Tobuscus, Freddy Wong and Ze Frank. They’re all masters of the video blog — speaking directly into the camera to anyone who will listen and making their videos as creative and pop-culture-rich as possible. Most of them release a new video out to the world once or twice per week, which helps them organically pick up new followers as people stumble onto their often hilarious and insightful observations about life. Such is the case with Hank and John Green, the two brothers who started Nerdfighters as a way to stay connected via videoblog (one lives in Montana; the other in Indiana).

All of these Internet celebrities use YouTube as their direct-to-the-Internet video broadcasting medium, but what makes them hugely successful is often what they do beyond their YouTube channel (which has an impressive 746,564 subscribers and 246,389,701 video views). The best ones are masters at nurturing communities of online followers in all kinds of locations online — including on Ning. They have over 81,000 members on their Ning site. Serious nerd alert!

In addition to their Ning community, which is one of the most trafficked on the Ning Platform, they have spawned fan Tumblr blogs like Eff Yeah Nerdfighters, Nerdfighters Don’t Fight Nerds, and Little Nerdfighter Things.

We wanted to give a shout out to Nerdfighters for all that they do to “increase awesome and decrease suck.” Their Kiva-raising efforts have resulted in a phenomenal 21,000+ loans totaling over 1 million dollars. Not bad for a bunch of nerds. Keep challenging your community and the world to be a better place!


Join them in donating on Kiva.

Not familiar with NerdFighters? Here’s a recent video:


 

Things to make your 4th of July explosively fun!

Next week, Americans everywhere will be celebrating the 4th of July. It’s a holiday that’s code for fireworks, sparklers, outdoor activities, BBQ cooking and comfort food, camping, picnics, parades, stargazing, bluegrass and country music, warmer weather and spending time with friends and family. Not a bad deal, right?

Members of Ning communities nationwide are sharing about the things that make for a memorable and special 4th of July — and letting the world know what makes them as all-American as apple pie… or Bruce Springsteen.

The Chamber of Central Mass South Online is letting people know about its fireworks show on July 3. It’s one of the region’s largest fireworks displays! A few states south of Massachusetts, Amy Shair, a member of The 919 Business Network, shares over a dozen 4th of July activities happening in North Carolina’s Triangle area. Celebrations continue even after the 4th of July, and Morgen Connor shares about the July 7 fireworks show happening in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

Though fireworks remain one of the mainstays of the 4th of July, other Ning communities are highlighting other ways to enjoy the great outdoors. On the Naples Velo Community, an inclusive cycling Ning site, there’s a 4th of July 50+ mile bike ride followed by a post ride picnic.

Despite being 2,000+ miles from the mainland, 4th of July celebrations are in full swing in Hawaii. On The Society of the Friends of St. Patrick Hawaii, this Irish-American Ning community will be marching in the Kailua 4th of July parade.

As many of you know, Colorado is experiencing major wildfires right now. On VW Camper Family, member Jeremy Nix asks the community for ideas and suggestions for making camping fun when building a campfire isn’t an option.

Quintessential to any 4th of July celebration is, of course, a great BBQ. In May, we highlighted many wonderful Ning communities cooking up a storm of delicious summer foods. Adding to this, Penni of Raw Food Rehab shares how to make a Cleanse America Fruit Cake (catchy, no?). Not only is it easy to make, it’s kid-friendly, and healthy!

Looking to make this or something else delicious and healthy for your 4th of July? If you live in the San Diego area, there’s still time to pick up some organic produce thanks to the Ramona Certified Farmers’ Market (held every Saturday). Used as their main website, they also use their Ning community to introduce the world to the various famers selling produce at the Ramona Farmers’ Market. Other healthy meals you can make include French Potato Salad, which Lois Carter Fay shares on RecipeIdeaShop.

Needing some good tunes to play during your 4th of July celebrations? Look no further than the chords heard on No Depression, a bi-monthly music magazine and home to Americana and roots music.

Not living in the USA? Share your traditions on a Ning community and let us know about it!

Have a safe and fun 4th of July. Wear plenty of sunblock and enjoy, ya’ll!

Ning celebrates its communities with Pride

June marks LGBTQ Pride month. Cities around the world are celebrating the LGBTQ community — certainly something top of mind for many people in an election year and as LGBTQ rights like gay marriage are being hotly debated as laws and views are changing and evolving.

You might remember the 2010 launch of Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project and the untimely death of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi. Organizations and online services like Ning, Google, Twitter and Facebook have continually invested in building teams and safeguards to ensure user safety on these services. These circles of support extend to prevent and stop online bullying, while properly educating users how to remain safe online.

We wanted to take a moment and acknowledge a few Ning communities making waves for LGBTQ rights and to stop online bullying:

Gay Healers Circle – San Francisco / Bay Area

LGBT Weddings Forum – Free LGBT Wedding Planning Community – EnGAYged Weddings

GayWallet.com

Change. Not Charity.

Village Outsiders

PFLAG Twin Cities – Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays

Team San Francisco – Where the games began

Bullying Sucks – Don’t just stand there. Do something.

We’re really proud of the millions of connections being made and thousands of communities using Ning everyday. We know that it sometimes takes courage and initiative to get a community of any nature off the ground — so we especially want to thank Ning communities pushing the envelop on cultural and social norms by igniting conversations, and building communities and places true to their passions and convictions. Be proud. We’re so glad to be supporting you on Ning.

Small biz meeting big visions through a Ning community

Alyssa Gregory is a small business collaborator and founder of the Small Business Bonfire. For the past 13 years, she has consulted small business owners, written about small business topics, worked on bringing entrepreneurs together, and spoke to groups about starting, managing and growing small businesses. In 2011, Alyssa was named one of 100 small business influencers in North America by Small Business Trends and Smallbiztechnology.com.

On a typical day, you can find her right on the Small Business Bonfire Ning Community, or sharing business tips, advice and resources on About.com, Small Business Bonfire Blog, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. For more information, please visit AlyssaGregory.com.

Alyssa’s Ning site, The Small Business Bonfire Community, has been invited to participate in the Local Resource Café during The NYT Small Business Summit on June 25 in New York City. We wanted to pick her brain and learn about her community’s success.
 

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a small business collaborator, which is a fun term I use to describe my passion for small business and the power of collaboration. I’ve been a small business owner for 13 years, and I use my “in the trenches” experience to help others by consulting fellow small business owners, writing about small business topics, and bringing entrepreneurs together. In 2011, I had the distinct honor of being named one of 100 small business influencers in North America by Small Business Trends.

How did you get started with the Small Business Bonfire Community?

I created the Small Business Bonfire in 2011 to provide entrepreneurs with a social, educational and collaborative community where they can network, share knowledge and learn from their peers. There are a few different components of the Bonfire, including the Small Business Bonfire Ning Community, our small business blog, the Red Hot Tool of the Week email, and our quarterly newsletter, The Spark.

How does the Small Business Bonfire Community fit amongst your overall social media and content strategy?

We do a lot with social media, particularly Twitter (@smallbizbonfire) and Facebook. Our Ning Community site makes it easy for us, as well as our members, to post updates across these platforms and engage with each other on other sites.

There is also a lot of discussion and interaction that takes place in the Community that often turns into content for our blog. For example, one of our writers, Emily Suess, uses a group in the community to start discussions, conduct research, and ask members for their input on specific issues.

What’s been the most interesting thing to happen within your Ning community?

What I find most interesting in the Community is the way our members have jumped right into networking and collaboration. It’s not a sales-y or overly self-promotional place, like so many online communities are (although we are all for helping our members promote their businesses, products and services!). Our members really “get it” in terms of helping each other and being open to learning from each other. I’ve seen our members enter into bartering relationships, guest post on fellow members’ blogs, help each other on a daily basis, and get lots of new business and referrals from each other.

What are people sharing within the community that they aren’t sharing anywhere else?

The biggest thing shared on our network that isn’t typically shared elsewhere is individual entrepreneurial challenges. Our members frequently explain problems they are experiencing or challenges they facing, and ask other members for advice, new perspectives, and ideas. These discussions can have a tremendous positive impact in the Community, not only for the member asking for help, but everyone who may be reading and learning in the background.

What features are you and your members using most?

Member blogs and the discussion forums are very popular in our community.

You have 600+ members. Do you have a sense for how they ended up joining your community? Word of mouth? Other sites/communities, offline events, etc?

Our members come from a number of places — word of mouth, social media and our small business blog are the biggest sources.

Tell us about the New York Times Small Business Summit.

The New York Times Small Business Summit is a one-day annual event in its 7th year designed to help small business owners improve their businesses. The Summit provides small business owners with the opportunity to mingle with the brightest and most innovative thinkers; brainstorm with “think tank” professionals; pitch directly to investors; build new entrepreneurial connections; consult one-on-one with today’s technology experts; discover the language of the press; and walk away with immediate tips and tools to help small business owners establish greater loyalty, gain new customers that can help boost profitability, and more. It’s taking place on June 25 at the Grand Hyatt in NYC.

What panel are you speaking on and what are you going to cover?

The Small Business Bonfire Community has been invited for a second year in a row to participate in the Local Resource Café during the Summit. Showcasing organizations in the tri-state area, the Local Resource Café provides a central area where attendees can mingle, pick up reference literature, find out about recent industry trends and talk directly with business experts. This year we will be participating with Constant Contact, Square, Batchbook, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, SCORE and a few other organizations.

What’s the 1 piece of advice for someone looking to start their own community?

The best advice I can give to someone interested in starting a community is to have very specific goals that outline what you want to accomplish. It’s very easy to get distracted by the latest shiny thing and lose sight of what you set out to do. Instead, set goals and break them down into manageable phases. And use the resources available to you! Ning has some excellent resources that can help you set up your community, customize it, promote it, and manage it. Bookmark the Help Center and the Ning Creators network, and you’ll be able to get your community up and running very quickly.

Celebrating dads, everywhere

As Hallmark Holidays go, Father’s Day is probably the favorite amongst men — they’re off the hook for buying flowers, chocolates or greeting cards. Instead they’re celebrated with a Sunday filled with rounds of golf, breakfast in bed, brunch, BBQs, enjoying brews, baseball games, and new power tools (if they’re lucky). What could be better than that?

With Sunday fast approaching, members of Ning communities nationwide are getting ready for paternal celebrations and sharing how they’ll be thanking Dad.

On Santa Rosa Mom, member and web host Trisha Novotny of 24/7 MOMS sits down with Valerie White of Gig Harbor Scrapper to chat about creative Father’s Day celebration ideas and presents (fast forward to 33:00), like a memory jar. What’s a memory jar? It’s a DIY gift that turns into a daily surprise for dad for the next year… and the best part is kids of all ages can contribute!

HomeLife Magazine provides great tips for helping kids craft poems for Dad. Cuteness aside, it’s a great way to provide some laughs and lasting memories. And what better way to decorate the refrigerator or office? Homelife Magazine also celebrates Father’s Day through its weekly give aways; Wednesday’s gift was an NFL authentic game ball signed by Tony Dungy — sure to make any sport-loving dad happy.

Vets for Vets takes a step back to thank all active military and veteran fathers for their dedicated service — both to their country and their families. The community is providing hundreds of photos that can be used to create a personalized card for Dad (and for grandfathers, uncles, cousins and extended family members too!).

Though many dads lack a fashion sense, The Coastal Star reminds us of a few tried and true ways that Dad can remain looking sharp with a hassle-free wardrobe staple — the blue blazer. From the board room to a baseball game, he’ll be looking good now!

For the macho-dad, The Muscle Car Network of Central Florida is publicizing its Father’s Day Super Cruiser event — a 45 mile drive from South Daytona to Titusville, Florida. The ride is followed by lunch at the food-dive Dogs R Us in Titusville, where kids eat free!

Other activities out of the house for Dad includes a Father’s Day 8K on Jack Quinn’s Running Club Ning community, the Fathers’ Day Skinner Butte History Walking Tour through the Eugene Downtown Neighborhood Association, and a Father’s Day Snack with the Animals in Irvine, CA through the Children & Nature Network.

Though the dads in your life might not ask for much for this holiday — know there’s plenty of things out there that’ll surprise and delight them — and Ning communities nationwide are brimming with great ideas if you need any inspiration. Happy Father’s Day, dads!

Cooking up a storm for the Memorial Day weekend?

Memorial Day weekend kicks off many summertime activities, most notably barbecuing and entertaining! If you’re looking to barbecue, you can find great recipe ideas and get inspired by checking out what others are cooking or sharing on Ning sites.

On How I Taught My Brother To Cook, the site’s photo gallery has hundreds of dishes inspired by Italian, Provençal and Catalan cooking styles. Pulled pork sandwiches? Yes, please. For the calorie-conscious person in your family, Gen’s Guiltless Gourmet highlights lighter meals like delicious vegan BBQ chicken skewers. FoodTube dishes out a wicked mix of recipes and restaurant reviews to ensure you don’t have a bad meal.

If simply enjoying hearty food is more your forte, look no further than BBQ Thom.com. The Ning site is all about catering championship style BBQ in Southern California by encouraging and organizing BBQ cook offs. Ning Creator Thom Emery is an avid member of the barbecue community and has been involved with many barbecue organizations and forums. He’s also won many cook off competitions. He shows how he smokes a beef prime rib:

The Little Seed, an environmentally-conscious shop and Ning community, blogs about many delicious recipes perfect for the warmer months. Recent recipes include baked kale chips, coleslaw, lemon squares and clafouti.

If you’re looking to add kick to your food, check out Hot Sauce Bloggers. The Ning site has everything from sauce reviews to videos of sauces being made and used in cooking. On Hair Metal Mansion, Ning Creator Andrew shares that guitarist Chris Caffery of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Savatage has started his own brand of hot sauce called Tears of the Sun. It seems that burning your taste buds has never tasted so good. And perfect for summer.

What delicious things are you cooking and eating over the Memorial Day weekend? Share your recipes on any Ning community you’re a part of and let us know where we can find it!

Finding and creating community to get a beach body

Summer is fast approaching. Have you kept that New Years Resolution to get that beach body you’ve always wanted? If not, that’s okay. There’s still plenty of time to do just that, and there are many Ning communities out there to help you reach your goal!

Health and fitness sites are nothing new, but finding a place that motivates and connects us to others with the same fitness goals is something of a foreign concept for many people. After all, we can’t all be on the The Biggest Loser and who wants to publicly share their weight loss goals?

The beauty is that people naturally feel more comfortable sharing this type of thing with like-minded people around them. We see this extending to the online world. In many ways, Ning Communities serve as the social lubricant, getting people to open up and share their story — for support, motivation and to highlight their successes to encourage others. With that in mind, we wanted to point out a few Ning communities making an impact on people’s health:

Move Nourish Believe

iAmTRI

Runners For Life

Strength Performance Network

Adelaide Cyclists

Russian Kettlebells UK – Helping Fellow Kettlebellers Come Together. Learn, Connect and Grow.
Russian Kettlebells UK - Helping Fellow Kettlebellers Come Together. Learn ,Connect and Grow.

30 Bananas a Day!

NJ Hiking: Connect – A Social Network for New Jersey Hiking Enthusiasts
NJ Hiking: Connect - A Social Network for New Jersey Hiking Enthusiasts

www.DiscGolfersR.Us – The Community of Disc Golfers and About All Things Disc Golf
www.DiscGolfersR.Us - The Community of Disc Golfers and About All Things Disc Golf

Richmond Road Runners – Supporting running in the metro Richmond area
Richmond Road Runners - Supporting running in the metro Richmond area

Outdoor Baby Network – An information sharing site for families who enjoy the outdoors!

 

Whether you’re trying to lose weight, bulk up, or simply interested in mixing up your dietary habits, there’s likely a Ning community filled with people aspiring to achieve the same results as you. And if there’s not, create your own community today and you can help improve the lives and health for thousands of people out there seeking the same fitness and health goals as yourself.

Beach-goers worldwide will thank you.

What to get Mom for Mothers Day?

If you’re like me, you might be at a loss what to get your mom for Mother’s Day. This year, skip the flowers and cheesy greeting cards and instead find a great Ning community for her to join. Does she have a love for knitting or is she a compulsive runner? Addicted to coffee or a travel buff? There’s likely a Ning community out there just for her! With over 100 million people part of Ning communities today, she might already be a part of a Ning community and not even know it!

To find a Ning site for your mom, head to Google and type in the hobby or interest you’d like to find, and add “site:ning.com” to the end of the search. This will search content and topics from Ning communities. For instance, here’s a Google search result for skiing — each result is a Ning community. We also highlight a lot of great Ning sites through our blog, the Ning Resource Center, Customer Spotlight and Inspiration pages.

Better yet, if the Ning site she joins has social sign-in enabled, she’ll be able to use her social identity from services like Facebook, Yahoo!, Google and Windows Live to sign up and sign-in, meaning 1 less screen name or password for her to remember or write down.

Here are a few Ning communities Mom might like:

The arts
My Modern Metropolis
MyGraficO Arts & Crafts Community
The Crafter’s Cafe – A place for women to come together, support one another, and build friendships
crafthaus – PARTICIPATORY SPORT FOR CRAFT ARTISTS
Knitting Community
The Peachy Keen Connection
The Cookery Network – The place for passionate cooks

Travel
The Hive

Celebrity
Smart Girls at the Party – CHANGE THE WORLD BY BEING YOURSELF
moonfrye

Causes
Navy For Moms
Women on the Road to Rio20

Working moms & mompreneurs
Professional Leaders of Women and Girls – Providing Quality Products, Services, and Support
Role Mommy
Pregnant Bloggers Club – Where pregnant bloggers converge
Executive Moms
Women Advisors Forum

Local communities
Chippewa Valley Moms – A Local Resource For Moms
ParentingNH – Events, features and things to do for families in NH
santarosamom – Conversation, ideas and events for parents in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County
Spartanburg Moms – A gathering place for moms in Upstate South Carolina
Des Moines Families – The 411 on 515.

Health & family
Babble Playground
National Movement for America’s Children – The Time to Awaken is Now.

Why else would you want to find a community for your mom? Hint, it benefits you…

It wasn’t so long ago that Facebook was only available to college students. But how times have changed. If you’ve tempted online fate by accepting a Facebook friend request from your parents, you know the online run-ins that can inevitably happen. Choice examples include awkward comments made by your dad for a party photo posted by your friends, or that check-in you didn’t get the chance to de-tag before your mom wondered what you were doing out at 4 AM. Find your mom a Ning site that’ll excite and get her engaged, and you might find a bit of refuge for your Facebook account.

Does your mom want a place to share family photos or does she have friends that share the same hobbies as her but aren’t sharing with each other online? Take her Mother’s Day gift 1 step further and create a Ning community for her! This is a great way to connect your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends. All in a safe and private place, too.

Better yet, make her an admin of the community so she can take ownership and pride in keeping family and friends together through her Ning site.

Happy Mothers Day, Mom!


Moms of the Glam Media family.

A smART way to learn with Ning

How do you get your students to take pride in their creative endeavors and make them feel like a million bucks on a budget? By showcasing their work to the world through a digital art show. One school district is doing just that, and they’re using Ning as the epicenter for their digital art show. In partnership with local high schools, the San Mateo County Office of Education is unveiling its student art show today, called the SMartwork Online Show.

The show brings together student works from 9 high schools within various districts, 18 teachers and their classrooms, 1,300 students, and guest galleries from additional school districts across the country.

“SMartWorkShow highlights student work from the media, entertainment, engineering, video gaming, graphic arts, digital photography and web design high school courses in several different schools in our county,” said Lauren Sneed, a school counselor for the San Mateo County Office of Education, Regional Occupational Program.

With Ning, the show is set up to allow participating teachers to upload student work directly to the site. Work is checked by the art show curators and each piece is categorized by media type so similar works can be grouped together. Many of the teachers did not know each other prior to this project, and are coming together to help organize the exhibition across the various participating schools. These teachers now share lesson plans and projects, communicate via email to solve problems, ask questions and work together with the show’s marketing team. As an offline marketing component, the teachers turned student works into postcards (pictured below) and held a design contest for its posters (pictured at bottom).

“This is the 3rd year for the show. We first proposed the concept of an online art show to help bring teachers within these pathways together and highlight their students’ work by leveraging resources and working in a supportive professional learning community,” said Sneed. “By creating the show with Ning, the focus is to promote career and technical education and merge these rigorous courses to also meet the California common core standards, utilizing 21st century skills in hopes of providing students with information about viable careers.”

As a Bay Area-based company, we’re really excited to see a local school district using our technology to enrich students’ lives by promoting proficiency in technology. The show is available through September 21 and you can check it out through their Ning community here.

Clockwise from the top: Ning‘s Jason Rand attended an April meeting with San Mateo county teachers to prepare for the SMartwork Online Art Show. Lauren Sneed helped to organize the SMartwork Online Art Show. A SMartwork Online Art Show poster made with students’ works. A screenshot of the digital photography gallery for the SMartwork Online Art Show.