As you can tell if you've figured out who my character is, I am really enjoying the NING role-play. It's good to hear so many voices, not just teacher voices, on the NING. I love the teens and the overachieving Luddite mama as well as those characters who are sharing research. It's affirming when someone responds to my comments. The role I chose, school board member, allowed me to comment on many postings. Sometimes I would challenge the posting, sometimes agree, and sometimes ask questions hoping to further the conversation. I was able to bring in some of my research, but I really appreciate what others brought to the role-play. Sometimes I have to recheck profiles or miss a relevant response in time for my character to respond, but it's been fun. It has also been very time-consuming since one doesn't know when who will respond to--or initiate--a discussion. Sometimes it's hard to follow a discussion because it's not clear where it gets posted, but that's a technical type of glitch.
I have used role-plays much like other teachers, both to work through social situations in the classroom and to enhance curriculum. My sense from our role-play is that adding the computer as communication vehicle is a step away from the community that is possible in a classroom. It's great for us to do 'at home' or 'on our own time' as adults, but I'm not sure I would advocate this use of digital media at the elementary level yet. However, the research presently going on in Sweden might change my mind.(thank you to Becky for this link).