I apologize for completing tasks out of order, but my podcast for Thing #21 is still being perfected. So, I paused for a while to explore the wonderful world of nings.
I started participating in a few nings this past spring. The National Association of Independent Schools has a ning that is useful to discuss ideas with other independent school educators. As a result of attending a one-day Web 2.0 conference, I also joined the Classroom 2.0 ning. This ning is a comfortable place to learn about new Web 2.0 technologies and ask questions about how these technologies are best used in the classroom. I also participate in an "invitation only" ning for a book club of neighborhood friends.
What I like about ning is that it has a much more professional feel than the other common social networking sites (like Facebook and MySpace). It's also a plus that they will remove advertising for educational student networks for grades 7-12.
Nings are a great way to allow professionals (and students) to participate in a collaborative, social environment without the stigma associated with the popular social networking sites. It allows for 24/7 learning and conversation. It's especially helpful for coordinating virtual and face-to-face meetings, as well as a common place for storing information for a book club or research project group. I wish these had been around when I was in college! :-)