Elgg and Ning Offer Social Learning Environments

Incorporating learning management systems into the classroom is no new idea in higher education. Many of these management systems, such as Blackboard and Moodle, do a good job distributing information and providing a place for users to record and store thoughts; but sometimes that is not enough to meet course objectives and prepare students to work collaboratively rather than competitively. Globalization is here, and the need for scalability of learning environments for collaboration, reciprocal teaching and interdisciplinary research is approaching.

Platforms such as Elgg and Ning provide packaged social environments that feature online profiles, easy-to-use multimedia, and grouping functions that allow students to subscribe to peer content, co-develop and present projects, as well as provide the possibility to extend learning beyond locality and the start and end times of a semester course. Through the use of flexible and scalable social environments like Elgg and Ning, a student is able to identify, select and arrange individual and class components in a way that helps him or her to make further sense of the main ideas of a course. Interested readers looking for a "hands-on" experience are invited to try out an Elgg demo or Ning.