The past and current education systems have faced criticism for their lack of ability to engage students in the classroom. This presents a challenge to teachers and -educators. Teachers have been turned to a narrator while the students have been turned to be listening objects. This severs the essence of learning as it is curtailed by memorization of knowledge rather than understanding. The students in turn become bored as the teacher becomes more puzzled as to why the students are not interested in learning. We may first start by introducing the concept of Ning. The importance of education is to pass lifelong knowledge and skills to students through engaging them in the teaching process. Dialogue in and outside the classroom can keep students interested in a particular subject even when outside the confines of the class and without the restriction of the teacher. This leads to a better understanding between the teacher and the student (Wells, 2007).
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It is this learning environment that has brought forth the inculcation of the Ning network which is described as a platform that enables the formation and creation of one’s social network. Ning first appeared in 2005 but was later initiated officially in 2007. The impacts of the technological advancement in such social networks have seen the lifestyle of many people in terms of information seeking in different fields such as education, dating, and career searching change in a big way. Nowadays people are able to get valuable information through social sites and spread them to other people who may require them and find good use of them. There are however a number of negative factors that are associated with social websites, misuse of other people’s personal information, and malicious attacks of innocent victims. a social network is a form of social structure made up of nodes which can be individuals or entities which are tied up in different interaction levels ranging from families and close friends to sovereign nations worldwide. Technology has made it possible for a word-wide network to be possible through interactive websites enabling instant messaging and emails. Users can also create their profile which are times broken down into categories which are internal social network (ISN) and external social network (ESN) (Brewster, 2009).
Despite the discouragement of usage of social networks in academic institutions, statistics have shown that most students discuss educational information while using such sites. It has been found that exchanges of education useful information that are important are shared through social sites such as MySpace, Twitter and Facebook. A person seeking higher education can also get relevant information and details from such sites through consultations. Most people are willing to offer their assistance and directions to such users.
There are several preferences that a user can opt-in to. The first option is where the client or user may decide to be offered the service for free but with the surety that his/her account can use for push advertisement by the people owning Ning. The second option is where the user may decide to pay Ning services in exchange to control the adverts running on their pages. The fee imposed is mainly paid every month.
Ning has a wide variety of users who range from individuals to multinational co-operations that could be seeking newer and faster ways for their employees to engage and share knowledge. Ning network is not only restricted to schools and institutions but can also be used by families to connect with each other. Educators have also used the technology for the expansion of ideas related to curriculum development. Ning can comprise of forums, videos, pictures, and chat capabilities that assist students and teachers to discuss and portray in real-time. Another advantage that the technology introduces is that it is accessible to everyone provided that they have access to the internet. Class projects can be organized with the teacher having prior knowledge of opinions on what the students know about the subject. A Ning network enables teachers to further continue and offer more time to students even after class. Time in the classroom is always insufficient for the teacher to satisfy the needs of each and every student in the class. Through Ning network, discussion on the topic can be expanded outside class with the assistance of blogs and discussion boards.
Adoption of the Ning network
Various platforms can be used for the growth of education in the classroom. Ning network was first implemented for educational purposes in 2005, shortly after it was introduced by cofounders, Marc Andreesen and Gina Bianchini. Ning is a Chinese word that stands for peace. Ning offers features that allow educators to form their own social networks. These networks can be centered on particular interests with each displaying specific designs. The adoption of Ning and other forms of social media for teaching students is a new idea that has not been fully embraced by all schools as various barriers need to be overcome in the school setting. These barriers are manifested through a lack of computer resources in schools and also a lack of specialized personnel who are equipped with relevant knowledge on social networking.
This new phenomenon calls for the need for teachers, students, and administrators to collaborate and share knowledge. This will result in advancing education and the development of a curriculum that is engaging as opposed to the current system which lets the teacher dominate the learning process hence leading to a passive student.
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Rationale for research
The current educational system has been hindered by the lack of engaging nature that it provides to students and the net effect that it has on the teachers. A Ning network enables teachers and students to share knowledge freely without the constraints of time and space. Through the use of the web, learning is becoming more and more attractive to the students. Social networking sites have been used in the past to create friendships on the positive side and negatively been used by others to spread rumors and gossips. When social networking tools are used for education, they become tools and engines for growth within the educational sector. Educational networks are utilized to create and engage the learning community to dialogue with each other hence leading to the participation of more people in the learning process.
Questions for Research
The most basic question the research will dwell on is the use of Ning in our schools and how it can successfully integrate both the inputs of students and teachers to come up with a better educational framework.
E-Learning: In the earlier periods, e-learning has thrived in the educational arena.
Many individuals use online education for the reason that it is convenient, as teachers and students can log into their courses through the net from anywhere. All they have to have is a computer or internet connection (Risham, 2010). E-learning presents prospects for adults with diverse learning methods to take part in different actions that contain those learning methods. It is suitable for students and educators as they are able to access information from different geographical sites and time zones. This cultivates research and writing skills among the students as contact between the teachers and their class is maintained through written communication. This ends up being the main mode of communication.
Apart from educational institutions, organizations began to inspect the utilization of e-learning apparatus in the facilitation of day-to-day operations. The alteration in platforms from Web 1.0, to Web 2.0, which is better in terms of technology and much savvier adaptation of the internet, made this achievable. Instead of still pages that basically disclose information, Web 2.0 permits individuals to relate with the information and this comprises tools such as blogs and educational networks such as social networking sites.
Knowledge management is defined as the management of human knowledge in institutions through the collection, synthesis, and dissemination of knowledge in a well-organized and functional manner. Knowledge management entails making people think of the knowledge in their hands and the capture of this knowledge in a selected location, and later disseminating it to the right people (Robin, 2004).
Collection of knowledge is much simpler than in earlier periods, given the development of technology and the web. The difficulty comes in classification to make sense to a larger group. The next difficulty exists in sharing knowledge with others in a manner that is searchable and can equal the correct knowledge to the right people. An institution must join the individuals who require the knowledge with those who contain it.
Knowledge management delivers the knowledge to students’ heads, and social networking apparatus is a way to collect this knowledge. Educational networks such as Ning could then take this information from one individual’s head and transform it into a form that other students can utilize Research has shown that knowledge is the application of facts to solve problems that could be hindering a person. Knowledge is often described as an infinite asset because it is the only asset that increases when it is shared. It is also described as the information received and applied in the performance of activities. In addition, knowledge is related to the experiences of people in organizations and societies. Many scholars and researchers have forwarded the concept of knowledge as a resource and an intangible asset and forms part of the so-called intellectual capital of an organization. To fully understand how knowledge-based value creation works, an understanding by management on what it is and how it relates to the competence of the firm is crucial. Most times it is information combined with understanding and capability. It lives in the minds of people and is based on individual experiences, beliefs and expectations.
Scholars have often put it that knowledge provides a level of repeatability, reliability, or predictability that usually stems from the recognition of patterns. For example, an astute executive knows the significance of the dollar figures on his /her company’s income statement and this makes him/her capable of taking positive action. It also guides action, whereas data and information can merely inform or confuse. Knowledge is the product of individual and collective learning which is embodied in products, services and systems (Bontis, 2002).
Social networking: These are defined as web-based services that permit people to either build a public or semi-public profile inside an enclosed system. These services are able to express a catalog of other individuals with whom they have a link. These profiles can also be seen and list traversed.
Educational Networks: These are user-friendly, user-generated settings. They are also a media used to advance partnership and cooperation; all these are needed in a truly educational environment, be it a classroom, boardroom, or an online discussion board. These abilities can be improved in an educational environment that uses educational networking.
Educational networks are able to sustain social networking and project-based education methods where educators and students can contribute in different capacities. This type of education is referred to as social learning (Foss, 2004).
As espoused by Hargadon, Steve in his article, “Educational networking: The role of web 2.0 in Education”. The internet has revolutionized the way businesses and organizations are run and this also applies to education as we are now seeing more and more cases of educational networks being applied in schools and other institutions of higher learning. Software developers are coming up with more innovative means for educators to pass on their lessons and knowledge without the constraint of both time and location to students. The students on the other hand can be able to discuss and generate dialogue with their counterparts on how best to solve problems that may afflict them. The first step towards the creation of educational networks was to make sure knowledge was accessible to everyone at all times. A school can decide to incorporate an intranet that will be used in the storage and display of information such as documents, forms, charts, and graphs, pictures & scanned images, databases & corporate and organizational calendars. The intranet can be commissioned by the school and can contain relatively static information, somewhat dynamic information, and highly dynamic information. Within the relatively static information are benefits descriptions, policies and procedures, forms, school charts, newsletters, document templates, facility locations & maps, and minutes of meetings. Some of the dynamic information listed on the organization’s intranet includes phone listings, internal job listings, project data, including their summaries and schedules. Highly dynamic information on the website incorporated daily news, corporate contacts, individual student data, email address listings, school calendar.
Using Educational Networks to integrate knowledge management and Learning
Associations formed to link social networking tools to educational institutions and organizations are increasing. The drift in telecommuting and virtual classes has alienated students and reduced chances for unofficial face-to-face knowledge exchange sessions. This challenge has led to schools and institutional organizations finding ways in which students and educators can share knowledge and connect the tools to existing educational programs. Educational networking tools such as Ning and Classroom 2.0 tools can bring individuals as one to share, and capture the knowledge transfers (Kotelnikov, 2010).
Developing an Educational Networking tool for Education
- Letting people appreciate the school as a knowledge market. This includes the creation of a place where knowledge is created continuously as people learn and gain experiences. This includes activities such as where people continuously seek information and knowledge in order to solve specific problems. Knowledge moves through organizations is exchanged bought, forgotten, lost found, generated, and applied to work. Hence need to create effective enabling conditions and market mechanisms for generating and exchanging information.
- The school should be able to create an enabling condition for knowledge markets example the provision of physical infrastructure, I.T, strategic visions, objectives values incentives, and attitudes, and relationships (Foss, 2008).
- Principles and rules of knowledge market: Knowledge markets only work if some basic rules and guiding principles are respected e.g. common interest principle and using the lighthouse principle (getting a mentor or give and take principle.
- Knowledge media: Media through which knowledge in school is identified, transferred shared, generated e.g. yellow pages.
- Knowledge Maps and skills profiles: This will involve the school developing skills profiles and by determining the jobs positions and for each position, determine the roles of people and competence. The school can go further by contributing to the staffing of projects. The management of the school can come up with a method of Collective memory example databases, groupware applications (software that enables users to work collaboratively on projects via network); capture and retrieve systems for relevant knowledge, codified and described in handbooks, manuals, process descriptions, project files, etc. Gatherings and meetings of practice-bringing experts log will be informally bound log by stored expertise.
- Knowledge Infrastructure (Tools): With assistance from the Information technology department, tools to support knowledge sharing can be designed to support knowledge media. They can include I.T Infrastructure and applications. The infrastructure can be based on Intranets and web-based software. Infrastructure could also consist of physical as well as communication (Foss, 2008).
- Implementation paths for Knowledge Management: At this stage, we may ask ourselves, which one for Cleveland School? This answer can be answered through many facets ranging from Information management to Knowledge management. We can start with I.T systems and specific applications e.g. databases, yellow pages, discussions panels. This can be followed by knowledge managers as change accounts- designate a knowledge manager to be responsible for knowledge creation and transfer. A problem-oriented path can be followed where solutions are triggered by a need, or knowledge management initiatives within the school can be initiated by creating teams with common interests this is best implemented using a top-down approach. Whereby knowledge management is initiated by School by corporate management
Benefits of Educational Networks
Almost all educational analysts and participants concur that incorporating social
Networks into official educational strategies signify major reforms in the way schools and other institutions of higher learning have coached and developed skills. Although social learning is not able to swap officially with e-learning, there are still some requirements that need to be fulfilled in order for structured education to distribute content, gauge performance and follow compliance. However educational networking can be utilized to amass knowledge and information to integrate into e-learning.
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Ning has been shown to be a first-rate tool for educators and student orientations and schooling programs. Most institutions usually present a standard orientation that focuses on the schooling community. Schooling departments could generate wiki or blog threads on their particular departments that are purposely geared to supplementing students and educators with all the schooling community having critical components and designs that can manipulate educational success in schools. The goal would be to provide sustained support for students and teachers that can be tailored to meet the developmental requirements of specific groups of students and other educators within the institution (Simmers, 2008).
Educational networking is spreading into many schools and institutions of learning all across the World. Educational networking might comprise of initiatives such as partnerships on projects or offering support and development in a student’s knowledge.
Knowledge management keeps an eye on and includes shared knowledge across a learning institution to guarantee that learning processes are properly conducted and skills and abilities are shared with all the members of the school fraternity. Educational networking allows members to locate educators for just-in-time help through the help of the internet. Spontaneous support forums based on certain issues and concerns can also be formed to help users with immediate problem-solving. Appropriately enthused, knowledge and intelligence can grow exponentially when distributed among members. When individuals share ideas, each stand to benefit, and these benefits spread to other people when again spread.
Undoubtedly there is a serious obstacle to knowledge sharing, with one of them being the lack of a connection linking the source and the beneficiary. Educational networking technology permits people to connect on general subjects. Individuals divided by location can link and generate virtual interactions so that knowledge sharing can happen. One of the difficulties of networking through this technique is that education needs to be merged with high-quality social relations (Zedram, 2008).
An institution can utilize social apparatus to bring together knowledge that develops formal learning. Blogs in an educational class let members share their skills and understanding, construct case studies for prospective e-learning classes, or utilize information remote from the formal educational process. Provision of structured educational networking for students after an e-learning class, or online module that develops face-to-face guidance permits an institution to record the valuable data shared by the class members during the post-course conversation.
It repays the school to expand a procedure to capture and broadcast the casual learning that happens through online educational networking. If data is not captured, the school misses out, as it cannot make certain that the shared knowledge is precise and suitable for the school, and students will not distinguish the worth of the knowledge they have.
Tools and applications to collect and share knowledge
Almost all educational networking tools like Ning that have expanded in fame popularity have been utilized for learning in one or more forms. All schools should regard all social tools including Ning in their classes for their training and development:
Blogs are sites retained by persons with regular postings of thoughts, views, or news. Any person with access to the website can scrutinize the entry and comments. Ripme.com reports tracking 0.5 million bloggers in January 2009 with 20,000 blog posts in 24-hours. Blogs are a precious instrument for linking knowledge management and e-learning. A school can develop blogs as a medium for transferring knowledge since they allow students to see what is inside one person’s head. An institution can set up a blog forum based on community blogs by department, topic, project, or issue. Content can be extracted so that data can be distributed and reused for external content.
Wikis are like blogs, but allow many members to donate to the content on the site. It is a joint knowledge-sharing implementation, and the content can be effortlessly and speedily updated, making it appropriate to “just in time education”. Wikis permit the student to be lively in knowledge sharing while allowing “just in time” methods to implement and distribute knowledge with many individuals operating on a collective project (Bontis, 2002).
Twitter is a networking micro-blogging website that permits learners and educators to “pursue” others’ messages. For knowledge management, Twitter lets an individual ask a question to colleagues. By trailing the communication thread, other members are able to view answers and solutions. An Institution can gather all the “tweets” in a database to class, tag, and share. A student can employ Twitter to track a mentor, connect to other educators, check new ideas, and continue conversations after class.
Facebook & MySpace are cases of social sites that attach individuals with familiar interests or interactions. Members can generate and search profiles, construct networks, and share data. For a school institution, they offer the ability to create profiles of students and teachers to categorize subject matter, specialists, incidents, and working relations. Designers can establish subject matter specialists for class growth and those in quest of advisers can look into profiles. Teachers can search and look for other staff with like experiences to think on problems and answers.
Instant messaging: involves real-time contact that links two or more individuals online or by cellphones, for SMS communication. Precious knowledge can be shared as individuals share incidences, work through problems, or talk about current ventures. Since IM utilizes text, it is simply confined and shared, for repurposing in educational content. An IM discussion on a problem can be captured and then re-utilized in a school blog sharing the last answer, and the procedure used to come to the answer.
Organizations and institutions are integrating Social and educational Networking apparatuses into their Knowledge Management applications and e-learning activities. Other individuals and especially schools can study from their examples (International Medical Center, 2010).
Price Water House Group; employ a wiki-based joint knowledge management tool. The knowledge captured from employees can be collected speedily through the company. They employ wiki sites, and other apparatus to permit communities to work together and generate value for the organizations.
Sun Microsystems’ new joint educational setting involves wiki-driven uses in arrangement with a learning management system (LMS). It permits employees to produce and upload data to issue to other staff. They are aware that learning can only happen through informal conversations among employees they offer them the technology so that individuals can share their knowledge.
Ohio State University’s knowledge information system OSU: pro is able to handle their distant learning programs since the school can recognize other institutions and individuals with whom they can work together and share best procedures and lessons. In addition, the raw data collected by scholars can be included in data and knowledge. If the university has a list of its knowledge assets, it should be able to generate educational and other programs faster.
Shell Exploration & Production’s educational is incorporated with and matched with the mechanism of its knowledge management technology like the web-based capability dictionary, forums, and hubs of excellence.
Future technology will persist to assist knowledge management to support educational initiatives and help schools gather, class, and share knowledge among users.
A recent Report flags semantic-aware applications as a current new technology with education precise functions in3 to five years. This technology makes it simpler to recognize the situation in which information is contained, which leads to new ways to locate and combine content. One social networking site, Twine.com, is already using this technology. As members assemble a profile, shares data, and collect content, the site makes links and proposals detailed to the member. The more a user adds, the more Twine incorporates and knows about the member and distributes the right data to him or her. For knowledge management websites sites like Twine permit staff and institutions to better gather, arrange, and administer the knowledge shared among members and to assemble the content that can be employed for educational purposes for classes.
Using Web 2.0 educational networking sites such as Ning, knowledge management and education in the class can become very efficient training and knowledge sharing vehicles for an institution.
Integrating knowledge management and e-learning is a change that transforms the way education and members of the school fraternity learn and benefit from the schooling system. Social networking tools such as Ning are a way to collect it.
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