Word is out… Ning remains “free” for educators (sort of)

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Ning’s official word on it’s future was announced today. Overall, to a very grateful educations community, news initially is appearing to be being received very well. Twitter is full of the buzz. You can almost hear all of the “high 5’s”, back slapping, whoops of joy, and a pervasive feeling of educational rightness in the world. Timing of the news is impeccable as well… Today is (US) National Teacher Appreciation Day.

While many are simply rejoicing, some are looking like the gift horse just pulled up in front of their school, a few are digging into the press release and announcements as closely as possible to find out exactly what “free means.” Some like @andersongl are realizing the “gift horse” is a bit lame…

@vanishingpoint I can’t live w/ a Mini Ning even if it’s free. We have too many members & too many features would be lost–groups, chat, etc.

So, let’s look at what many will feel is important first. What are educators getting as part of their “free” Mini Ning?

About Ning - Pricing Plans.jpg

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For a full comparison click here to access Ning’s pricing / features comparison page.

Overall, for an educator that is just starting a network, Ning’s offering may really suit many needs. Being able to have blogs, photos, video embeds is a good thing. However, for the long established educational networks, you will need to move to Ning Plus to have access to the video’s you have currently uploaded… and if you want to be able to upload MORE video projects, you need to upgrade to Ning Pro at $49.95 / month (or $499.95 / year – a saving of 17%)…

Like Gary Anderson, many will find that the majority of the features they are leveraging now on a regular basis will be unavailable unless they look to one of the Ning Plus $19.95 / month ($199.95 / year) or Ning Pro mentioned above. I would be concerned (are you?) “free = no access to Like CURRENT VIDEOS already uploaded to Ning, or chat, or groups, etc…

@coolcatteacher and I had a dialogue on Ning’s less than stellar response to support requests, well educator’s note… you now need to rely on the community at large for issues.

Ning has posted that there are “more details coming” regarding the educators remain free option, and that “a major educational company has offered to sponsor Ning Mini Networks for educators globally in primary and secondary education.” So, perhaps as more details come out, educators will have a concrete set of features to make decisions on. Also, I know ALL will hope for more features…

As a final note to this post, there is a great article in the NY Times Bits technology blog on Ning’s recent announcement. Here is a clip of my favorite part:

“The big lesson for nonprofits and education technologists alike would be to keep in mind that if you want absolute control over the way a certain platform or solution works, the only way that can be accomplished is by housing it yourself,” he said. “Unfortunately that comes at an additional cost, and that cost has to be taken by someone.”

I know that educators around the world have banded together on this issue. There have been meetings, elluminate sessions, rants, blog postings, articles, and many many alternatives suggested… the one alternative that everyone tries not to think about is paying for the services we use…

One thought on “Word is out… Ning remains “free” for educators (sort of)

  1. Depending on the situation of a teacher’s current Ning, the Mini Ning proposal might be OK. Some groups can be rolled over to Forums pretty easily. I’m guessing that the previous Groups content will disappear at some point for those choosing to go the Mini Ning route.
    The “full Ning experience” includes groups, chat, apps, and an ever-increasing number of members. All of that disappears with Mini Ning. The “gift horse” is appreciated, but it’s really more like one of those miniature ponies that pull tiny wagons in summer parades than an actual horse.
    On the one hand, this is not a surprise. Corporations exist to make profit. Ning is a corporation. Ergo, Ning exists to make a profit.
    The big lesson here is that any online platform is one corporate decision away from being pay-as-you-go. Youtube, Flickr, Blogspot, Facebook, MySpace, any of them could easily become pay services. Ning’s decision may just be the beginning, but I suspect that the other sites I mentioned are finding ways to survive without becoming fee services. They make their money by selling something or by placing ads in prominent places.
    Thanks, Scott, for pulling together all of this information.

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