Lucy Gray and I have had an interesting "conversation/exchange" over the last two days regarding the current (still unconfirmed by Ning) possible "Free Networks – Pay Up or GO!" move that was reported a few days ago.
Going along with my other post regarding free networks, I know that this amazing education community is still searching for answers, guidance and information from Ning itself, and for alternatives. When I hear the word "alternatives" regarding a service that was free, would be to find a "free" alternative. But our (Lucy and my) exchange got me pondering… When we think "educator" pricing, what do we seriously consider is a viable cost for a service such as Ning's? Before we throw out a number I believe that there are a number of factors to consider:
- Is this a monthly charge or annual or lifetime (although the "lifetime option is fraught with peril).
- Is it purchasing the "service" or just an instance of the service? (i.e. wikispaces vs. Zoho or PB wiki – Do you get to create as many of "X" as you want or do you have a limit on the number like creating 5 free wiki's but when you want a 6th or another 5 is costs more…)
- Are you purchasing a tiered service for storage… (i.e. $5/mth for 1GB, $10/mth for 20GB?)
- Are "basic" service at one cost and premium services (beyond just removing ad's by the way) an additional cost? (i.e. Zoho Project – The first project is free and you get some basic services along with that like a wiki, unlimited users, and a couple of others. But, if you would like project document storage, time tracking, etc there is an additional cost.)
- Is there a "per user" cost associated? (we have about 100-150 students each year that need some kind of access…)
- How do you handle year over year? Simply create a new "X"? Or "clear out" your old "X"?
I know that some educators maintain 7 or more Nings. Is the cost we are looking at for an "educators" pricing per or as a whole? This could get real expensive real fast… Some of the organizations I work with provide 5% – 35% or more off as a discount. Others give away some features "free" but ask you to pay for upgrades to provide additional capabilities. Some give limited amounts / access but charge for additional.
I know that there are a good number of educators out there that pay for services already? Is anyone willing to respond in the comments what service and how much you pay? What would be a good "educators" price, and what level of service / capabilities should be included in that price?