Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thanks, Ning.

I just got a call from my primary contact at Ning, letting me know one aspect of the support they've been so generous in giving to educators--the funding me as a consultant--has fallen victim to this economic downturn.

While I am of course, disappointed, it's been a great priviledge and pleasure to represent Ning to educators, and to represent educators to Ning. The build-your-own-social-network model has opened many doors to thinking about professional development and classroom work in the context of social media. I want to say it's been historic. I think it has been. I hope you'll consider leaving a comment here letting Ning know if you feel it's made a difference for you. I'd love to leave them with a parting gift celebrating what they've done.

I will miss the opportunity to get paid to work on something I truly love. Classroom 2.0, which is just about to reach 15,000 members, will stay unchanged as it's never been a part of the work I've done for Ning. It was, however, the impetus for calling Ning co-founder Gina Bianchini last year and suggesting that I could work for them. I felt that CR 2.0 would have a hard time growing and making a real difference for educators if I had to "monetize" it, so working for Ning would be a justification for my keeping it free. That turned out to be a great idea. Because I had paid work to do for Ning, I felt comfortable keeping CR 2.0 open to, and encouraging of, other educators starting their own networks. I believe that was a critical part of the broader adoption of social networking by those who were a part of it, and Ning deserves a lot of credit for that.

If you do a search at Ning.com for networks tagged with "education," there appear to be over 9,000 results. A look at http://socialnetworksined.wikispaces.com shows some of the depth and variety of educational networks that have been created. 15,000 members (almost) in CR 2.0. Over 3,000 members in Ning in Education. Most everyone I know in ed tech has created a network or two or more. Isn't that amazing when you think of how hard it was, even just a few years ago, to imagine social networking as a part of educational practice?

It's been a great ride. No doubt, there is still much fun ahead of us, but I'll miss my formal association with Ning.
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