Ning has great potential for helping people collaborate. I viewed message boards in Teacher Librarian Ning that had teachers and librarians discussing books, which was similar to Library Thing. Ning for Teachers (Teacher Lingo) can also be used as a platform for master teachers to share their knowledge with newer teachers. I saw that Ning for Teachers even has teacher made power points and other educational materials on sale for a few dollars.
The benefits for students using Ning are boundless. Students from around the globe can form a network and discuss environmental issues or political issues that affect them both. What a great way to connect with other cultures! One of the seven explanations about Ning mentioned that a network creator could “create entirely new tools and features.” With this flexibility, Ning could be used to challenge gifted students. Students, guided by their teacher, could practice their writing and research skills in a forum that actually might motivate them, since they would be communicating with other students through Ning.
One of the draw backs in Ning is that there are so many sites that seem to overlap and offer the same tools. With all the other collaborating sites in competition, how many people really use Ning? I checked out the Middle School Librarian group in Teacher Librarian Ning, and ,although they had over 200 members, they only had seven posts for the entire year of 2010. Since a Ning can be private, maybe the private forums are used more frequently. All of the student sites I tried to access were not open for public view, so maybe this is the case. For now, I think I am going to stick with one social networking site--Facebook.