I wrote a post here about how my class responded to their first day on our Ning Network. Today I want to share a quick story about how my students used the instant chat function.
When first given access to the Ning and the instant chat, most students spammed the chat with emoticons and one-liners like "hi" and "haha".
In my school, we have 40 students that make up two grade six classes. Twenty of them are mine, and the other twenty are in a neighboring classroom that is joined by a doorway. My colleague, Richard, and I were having our students place photos of themselves as their profile pictures on the Ning. Many students were quick to proclaim that they were stuck and could not figure out how to upload their pictures.
I asked them what they could do to get unstuck. Their first answer was typically: "I could ask you for help." Which I promptly but politely declined. I said that I would help them but I couldn't be their first solution. Some turned to a neighbor or wandered around the room searching for someone who might help, while others sat there perplexed.
I sat down at my computer for a moment; I wanted to check the Ning to see if some profile pictures had found their way online when I noticed something new.
Jamie, a student in my class, had posted on the instant chat something no one else had done yet: "I'm stuck! I don't know how to upload a pic. Help!" Not a moment later, Derick, a student in Richard's class, replied: "I'll be right over."
I looked up to see Derick walk through the doorway, from his classroom to ours, and head straight for Jamie. He was there to help.
In the physical world, our two classes are housed in two different rooms - separated by a load bearing wall. In the virtual world, we are one community of learners where load bearing walls need not exist. The Ning is providing our students with an opportunity to use the virtual chat room to invite students through the physical door.