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A “Revisited” blog post indicates that I reread the original and used AI-assisted tools (e.g., Grammarly) to improve grammar and word choice.

First published March 16, 2010.

Several years ago, I wrote a blog piece for the electronic version of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, lamenting how the meaning of ENGAGEMENT was (over)used in higher education circles. Recently, however, I had reason to reread a marvelous handbook written by “virtual friend” and social media evangelist Jane Hart, “Engaging with Social Media Activity Pack.” This is a great resource I originally extensively drew upon during my adventures teaching a freshman seminar about ” Web 2.0 tools.” 

I now realize that Jane’s Model of Engagement With Social Media captures what I am attempting to do in the classroom—moving students from “reader” to “participant” to “creator.” Moreover, it suddenly dawned on me that in attempting to achieve this goal, I have been transformed in that direction!

Several social media platforms are available to encourage this kind of “engagement development.” Jane has provided an excellent summary of several of the strengths and weaknesses (Twitter, Facebook, Ning, and Elgg).

During the past month, I have devoted considerable time to mastering Ning. I had used it twice before with modest success—one year with freshmen and a second year with a research seminar for seniors. This time I elected to build a Facebook-like entity, “Pioneer Place'” for Carroll alumni whom I have personally come to know across my 32 years of teaching here.

Here is a list of questions (with tentative answers) that guided this project:

What are my goals for Pioneer Place? (To provide a virtual location which, for now, I control, where invited members of my extended Carroll community can drop in, reconnect, share, contribute, and celebrate their Carroll experiences.) It is a virtual sandbox where former students, mentors, and I can play and build community.
Whom should I invite? (Initially, people whom I know well, whom I respect, and who might share my goals). The initial group consists of former and future members of the Board of Trustees, present students and faculty, former advisees, individuals currently residing in foreign countries, and even a few Chicago Cubs fans!
How many (other) Ning Networks can I manage? (Right now, I am focusing only on developing Pioneer Place. Perhaps shortly, I’ll create one for my consulting partners with Carroll connections.
How many other Nings should I belong to? (I am currently a member of six other Nings, primarily for benchmark purposes.)
How can I learn more about creating and developing Nings? (In addition to the introduction I received from following Jane Hart, I have found handy Manny Hernandez’s marvelous book Ning for Dummies–see my review of the book on Amazon.com.

Here is what this very-much-under-development Pioneer Place project looks like. What fun it is to attempt to build bridges across generations of individuals who have touched (and continue to affect) my life!

Feedback is welcome—especially from alumni and future alumni of the Carroll College (WI)/ Carroll University (WI) extended community.

Stay tuned.