MET:A Nicenet Approach

From UBC Wiki

This page was originally authored by Donna Powell-Wilson (March 2009).

Nicenet, one of many web based learning management systems (LMS), provides teachers with the opportunity of working with students, whether in distance mode or in addition to face to face teaching. It works entirely via the internet browser without making any further software demands on teachers or students.

Who can use Nicenet

Nicenet (Internet Classroom Assistant) ICA is designed for post-secondary and secondary classrooms, distance learning and collaborative academic projects, though anyone who finds it useful is at liberty to use it.

Advantages of using Nicenet

  • Anyone online anywhere can type into their browser and get started with Nicenet
  • It's private
  • It posts new messages very quickly, giving the impression that the discussion is "real-time,"
  • Messages don't disappear when you log out as they do with Chat.

Limitations of Nicenet

  • Documents cannot be uploaded nor attached
  • If you do not save your work by clicking the Edit Document button at the bottom, you will lose it if you go to another part of the program
  • The documents appear in the reverse order in which they were added and cannot be sorted.
  • Course administrators and students can add documents into Nicenet, an option which cannot be turned off, although if necessary, the administrators can delete or edit any document that is added
  • Names appear in alphabetical order and unfortunately cannot be annotated
  • Not synchronous
  • You cannot post a powerpoint presentation

Benefits to the teacher

  • Allows teachers and students to interact with one another even if it is not synchronous or “real-time”.
  • It's easy for teachers to use -- a fifteen-minute workshop will be enough to get most teachers going
  • The teacher is a facilitator rather than a controller

Benefits to the student

  • Provides students with interactive activities
  • Students would be able to interact with the teachers or with the whole class and engage in a meaningful communication
  • provides learners with more control over the process of developing literacy skills (Silc, 1998).
  • Students feel more relaxed in a conductive atmosphere where teachers could provide advice and comments

Features of Nicenet

  • Conferencing: Create your own private, threaded conferencing on topics you make for the class or opt to allow students to create their own topics.
  • Link Sharing: Share links to pertinent Internet resources sorted by topics that you create.
  • Document sharing: Students and professors have the ability to publish their documents on the site using simple web-based forms. No knowledge of HTML is needed. Automatically integrated with scheduling, students are one click away from turning in their assignments on-line, giving their peers feedback on published papers and receiving professors comments.
  • Scheduling: Put the class schedule on-line. With a seven day advance view on your class homepage, students will have a heads-up display of upcoming assignments and class events.
  • Personal Messaging: Similar to traditional email but fully integrated with document sharing and conferencing, personal messaging is a great way communicate with and between individuals in your class, comment privately on conferencing postings or give private feedback on published papers.


The use of discussion boards such as Nicenet is not without criticism. Often times these are seen as impersonal, with no face-to-face interaction. While the face to face interaction is minimized during the use of Nicenet, students are all given equal opportunities to participate in a learning environment without fear. Another concern for using nicenet is that there is no way to clone a course. That is, each time a new class is to be created, all the links that the students need must be entered. This can discourage teachers who are already familiar with other discussion boards such as moodle. Nicenet as with any other web application has potential risks for the educational settings. It is usually the teacher's job to teach students what is safe to post in terms of safety and privacy (Richardson, 2006).

External Resources and Links

Tech ELT Blog

Nicenet Inscription

Moving at the speed of creativity

Nicenet Releases a New Interent Clasroom Assistant

How to access nicenet

Web Application

Nicenet Philosophy


Teaching with Discussion Retrieved on February 27, 2009 from,

Landsberger, J. (2001). Integrating a web-based bulletin board into your class: a guide for faculty. TechTrends, 45(5), 50-53.

Mohamed, A.H. & Dzakiria, H. (2005). Using NICENET in Language Classrooms at the Universiti Utara Malaysia, Malaysia. Malaysian Online Journal of Instructional Technology,2(2)114-123. Retrieved on February 28, 2009 from,

Richardson, W. (2006). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful tools for classrooms. USA: Corwin Press.

Silc, K.F. (1998). Using the World Wide Web with adult ESL learners. ERIC Digest. Washington, DC: National Clearinghouse for ESL Literacy Education. (EDRS No. ED 427 555)