Ning communities are beneficial to those wanting a networking platform for a specific purpose. I can see students feeling comfortable using nings because they are familiar with adding photos & videos and discussing topics in that type of format. My own sons, one is headed to college and the other will be a sophomore, said they preferred using facebook. They liked when teachers created specific group pages. What I am wondering is - Does that mean the creator of the group (the teacher) can then see all of the students FB information/updates? If so, students would most likely want to use a ning for privacy issues. The ning's value is having one location to share and discuss pertinent information as a select community.
File conversions - I will admit that I have successfully converted files through trial and error. Many errors before success - to the point of tears and frustration when things did not work. I see the same frustrations in my students when they bring files from home on their flash drive only to find that it will not open at school. The last few years, I used Real Player to capture and convert Youtube videos to play at school. I am so excited to say that my school district has lifted the firewall on Youtube - to say that it has taken classroom lessons and promoting reading with book trailers to another level would be an understatement. I learned something new today - Blinkx. I didn't know there was another popular video streaming site. It is essential that students know how to find, convert, and embed video files in today's multi-media world. Many assignments given at the middle school level implement the use of technology in various ways. Some of my students do not have the luxury of having a computer at home...if they do, they don't always have someone at home that understands how to use the computer and newest software programs. It's up to teachers and library media specialists to educate them.