End of Free Ning Networks: Live Online Discussion: Apr. 20th

Claude AlmansiBy Claude Almansi
Editor, Accessibility Issues

Ning social networks have been very popular, particularly among educators for whom they meant a free – without ads for K-12 classes – learning environment, with blogs, forums, photo and video galleries, personal pages for members and the possibility to create sub-groups.

But on April 15th, Ning’s new CEO, Jason Rosenthal, announced that they were going to end Ning’s free offer: see Ning Update: Phasing Out Free Services by John McDonald, Ning Creators‘ forum. This is a severe blow,  as there is no simple way to back up a Ning network.

Fortunately, Steve Hargadon – who has an extensive knowledge and practice of collaborative online tools for education and of Ning in particular –  is organising a live online discussion about the implications for educators of this change. From his April 15 Ning Changes and the Impact on Educational Communities post:

… If there are changes coming to Ning, then as a community we’ll want to work together to respond and to help each other.  Some initial thoughts are below.  I’m also going to open up a live Elluminate session on Tuesday, April 20th, at 5pm Pacific Daylight Time (US) / 8pm Eastern Daylight Time (US) / 12am Wednesday GMT (international conversions here).  Let’s gather information and then use that time to talk about what is currently known and what the potential courses of action are for existing network creators.  We’ll use the FutureofEducation.com Elluminate room:  log in at http://tr.im/futureofed. I’ll open up the room 30 minutes before the event if you want to come in early, and we’ll run as long as is needed. To make sure that your computer is configured for Elluminate, please visit http://www.elluminate.com/support. …

Whether you yourself use a Ning network or not, this discussion might interest you:  “free” collaborative web services do at times disappear.

The Cheshire Cat on a tree branch, fading

UPDATE by Claude Almansi on 20 April 2010 at 10:50 pm:

The online meeting on Ning scrapping free networks, organized by Steve Hargadon was great. With up to 150 very lively participants, the accurately prepared documents shown on the whiteboard were a great help in keeping to the point while still allowing asides – which understandably comprised some ranting – but on the whole, the meeting was very constructive. E.g. there was a whiteboard page where we could all suggest alternative solutions, and we were able to contribute to a list of points Ning’s attention should be drawn to.

For more info about – and for the recordings of – this meeting, see Steve Hargadon’s Ning in Education Discussion–Recording and Forum Links (2010-04-20)

6 Responses

  1. Thanks for the heads up on this. I have used Ning and really like it because it is easy and flexible. I used it last year when I was in Poland for my Polish students to do online discussions since they did not have an electronic board available. I also used it for my personal journal. I am also a member of a couple of other people’s Nings. I guess I’ll have to spend the next few days trying to download what I need from them. Too bad.

  2. Actually, Lynn, Carla Arena has just tweeted a link to http://diigo.com/0ahy1, which is a diigo cached version of savemyning.com.

    And savemyning.com says:

    Save My Ning is an archive service that will allow you to backup your existing Ning Network on our webservers for free. We will host ads on the sites in order to cover the cost much like your Ning Network had ads. However, you will not be able to post to your archive, only read it. For continuing your community, we recommend any of the services listed to the side.

    No guarantee, though,But they also add:

    We are working on a ‘downloadable’ system that will allow you to download your Ning Network to your local computer and choose to host it on your own webserver. There will be a fee for this version of the service.

    And for people willing to pay, this might be a much more interesting solution than paying Ning to keep their network on the Ning server.

  3. The online meeting on Ning scrapping free networks, organized by Steve Hargadon was great. With up to 150 very lively participants, the accurately prepared documents shown on the whiteboard were a great help in keeping to the point while still allowing asides – which understandably comprised some ranting – but on the whole, the meeting was very constructive. E.g. there was a whiteboard page where we could all suggest alternative solutions, and we were able to contribute to a list of points Ning’s attention should be drawn to.

    For more info about – and for the recordings of – this meeting, see Steve Hargadon’s Ning in Education Discussion–Recording and Forum Links (2010-04-20)

    • Ning survey for educators hit by the scrapping of free networks

      One of the consequences of the online discussion organized by Steve Hargadon: “the Ning team” has now sent a message creators of Ning networks for education asking them to reply to a survey (surveymethods.com/EndUser.aspx?B793FFE5B6F7E1E3B7). I received this message Sat, Apr 24, 2010 at 3:20 AM, 11 hours ago. And it says

      Please complete this survey before Monday, April 26th.

      .
      What about people who are doing things with their kids during the week-end? And:

      • The survey itself does not mention a deadline
        Page 6 asks “May we contact you if we have any further questions regarding your responses to this survey?” but the survey has no field anywhere in which to provide a contact address.
    • Moreover:

      • By addressing the message only to the technical creators of networks, “the Ning team” shows an impressive ignorance of how collaborative tools for education come into being: i.e. several teachers have a common project for which they choose a tool, then ONE actually fills the form to create the tool. But that one is not per force the most active member of the project.
        By specifying in Question 1: “Please answer only for Ning Networks for students or teachers in primary or secondary educational institutions, not colleges, universities or vocational schools“, “the Ning team” proves to be just as ignorant of educational systems as of collaborative tools: in several countries, vocational schools are part of the secondary system, and you can have learning projects involving both vocational and non vocational secondary schools.
        Question 2 says: “Are all of these Ning Networks active today?” with only a Y/N answering option. Should we count the conspicuous spamming by bots – due to Ning’s poor data protection- as “activity”? What about Ning networks that were used actively by real members for a given course that is over, but whose content is still used as reference for further courses using a Ning or other platform?

      .

        Question 9 is open for you to add remarks about aspects that are not covered by the survey. so here’s what I entered:

        It won’t be any particular problem if you scrap the Nings I created.
        However several other free educational Nings I subscribe to have invaluable materials and are really active.
        When MSN chose to scrap their groups, they gave [people] ample warning and arranged for the possibility to migrate their content at multiply.com and carry on there. Ning’s terms of use allow you do go down in history as more ruthless than MSN, of course. But will it be good publicity for your paying service?

        In a nutshell: maybe “the Ning team” did not mean to propose a fig-leaf – or is it shotgun? – survey to teachers who naively believed what the team wrote about being committed to education. But that’s what it amounts to. OK, if you still want to answer it, here’s the link again: surveymethods.com/EndUser.aspx?B793FFE5B6F7E1E3B7

  • Nice article, I had experience of this before but wasnt this is nice to know

  • And yesterday (June 21, 2011), Jason Rosenthal announced increases in the price of “Plus” and “Pro” Ning plans, to become effective on July 20, 2011: see his Changes to Ning Plus and Pro Pricing. From the comments to this post, creators of Ning networks, even those who originally congratulated Ning on “getting rid of free riders” last year, do not seem overjoyed.

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