This semester I have decided to move my online course to Niing. Students will use Ning to access the weekly presentations of content and assignments, post a weekly blog, post project assignments for peer review and feedback, and work on a final group activity.
To help students get started, I linked three videos from You Tube. One video is an overview of Ning, one shows how to post a blog and the last shows how to create a discussion posting.
I linked the weekly presentation of content and assignments in a text box at the top of the main page. I also placed the blog and discussion tools directly below this text box.
I created a cyber café discussion for course questions. I enable the option to be emailed when learners post to the discussion.
I created a Google Calendar for the course and embedded it into a text box to help students keep track of assignment due dates.
The first week was less chaotic than I expected. Most students were able to access Ning and post their introductory blog. One learner complained loudly, but was able to post his blog.
Another student was unable to log-in the second time they accessed the course. She ended up creating two memberships. I banned the first membership (this sounds so harsh and awful) which appears to delete (ban) them from the course.
Yet another student changed the setting for moderating her blog… preventing other learners and myself from making comments. I sent an email to the class asking them not to change the blog settings.
I’m still playing with a way to be notified when blogs are posted. I tried the rss feed to my iGoogle page but it doesn’t seem to update in real-time. More experimentation needed here.
Overall most students appear to be able to use the site without dropping off the learning curve.