R.I.P Ning – Is that such a bad thing?

Sorry a little bit heavy – I think everyone is overacting slightly, yes it is a shame that Ning’s free service and educational accounts will not exist in about 90 days time or sooner. Read this: http://tcrn.ch/aawmin

Ning 2

However I think maybe some of us are overreacting a little bit. I am not saying this because I think Ning is rubbish or because I don’t use it, quite the opposite in fact. I have been a big fan of Ning for a few years now and we have many Ning groups used within school including a staff one with over a 100 members of staff sharing ideas and sharing examples of students work. Ning has been a brilliant tool for us and has really enhanced the learning experience of our students. Just check out the wonderful work we have done with Ning: http://chickensaltash.edublogs.org/2009/08/09/putting-the-ning-into-learning/

So why do I think people are overreacting?

First of all it is owned by a third party, it is free (or was) and we all knew the potential dangers of using such an application that at some point the company could be completely selfish (it is a business) and decide to charge us all after we get hooked and really need it. If you really value the service then why not just pay for the privilege of using it, we often pay for other services happily so why not this? If you don’t value the service that much, I for one will not pay for the student groups that we use this for unless the students decide that they want to – I think it is important for students to become resilient, resourceful and be able to critically evaluate the effectiveness of Ning now it has a cost. We may end up paying for the staff version but I think that the end of the free service is a great learning opportunity for our students.

There are so many alternative versions similar to Ning out there, we have started trialling Elgg a month or so ago after good advice from @stephenfarmer check him out on twitter if you don’t follow him yet and we already use edmodo. However there are so many other ones out there. There are many examples and advice on these check out these two blog posts the second one by my Meerkat chum James Clay:



Some more good news is that both Posterous and Buddypress have been talking about being able to accommodate and switch Ning accounts across so keep an eye out for that over the next week or so, details can be found here:



Finally the biggest thing I am worried about is losing the content of the communities that our students have built up – more good news here is that this is a organisation who will help you archive it see here: http://www.savemyning.com/ This means if you don’t want to pay for the service you won’t lose the content or the contacts.

So what does this mean then? Basically yes it is a little sad but if we were all going to be realistic then it was going to happen sooner or later. If you really want the service then pay for it, if you really want to be an effective 21st century learner which is what we are trying to develop our students in school to be then be flexible and evolve to use something else. I really hope our students chose to do this otherwise I will be disappointed that we are not churning out risk takers! So what do you think of this post?


on “R.I.P Ning – Is that such a bad thing?
7 Comments on “R.I.P Ning – Is that such a bad thing?
  1. Actually it is not “open source.” It may have been free but it was corporate owned and open source is quite different. Open source belongs to a volunteer community with no financial interests “the potential dangers of using such an application that at some point the company could be completely selfish (it is a business) and decide to charge us all after we get hooked and really need it” is the opposite of the open source model.

  2. ah, the problem with all online services – especially 2.0 – we want it all for FREE!!! but hang on, is that sustainable? productive? or is it a new false economy?

    i just bought pearl jam’s debut album online. could have got it for free, sure, but chose to pay. why? because some things are worth paying for. they have value.

    this is potentially a real problem we have – a generation of people expecting content, information, services etc for free. we need to make sure our young people understand the value of good content, good information, good services etc.

    ok, rant over, hope you had a good easter bud!

  3. I’ll just add two things and my two cents worth.

    1) totally agree with your thrust if it weren’t about education. What does that say about our comittment, fat millionaires commitments to education and the future? Nada. Plus, the lesson for students is that Ning can trample all over a signed contract and TOS. The law doesn’t apply to the little guy. These are the lessons, not some frontier version of “paying for what you get”.

    2) I do know Ning very well and was one of the very first to build communities on Ning several years ago. If you think they are going to let people just migrate their content elsewhere, then I have some swamp land to sell you…. You and others are hoping but Ning will have excuses and will hide behind the so called veil of “privacy”. Sorry but those communities are gone. It is like Ning has a neutron bomb and can wipe out all the buildings/infrastructure and just leave the people. what kind of lesson is that for students? where you build something honestly and then someone can wipe away the sky?


  4. Great point about flexibility and rolling with the punches. Sites do come and go, and they force us to remember that it is not the tool for learning, but the learning. If the foundation of the work is strong, it can move to another place and continue. Sure, there are hassles, but it can be done.


  5. Agree with you wholeheartedly. I fear that too often we become reliant on free services and utilities (Jing, Facebook, Screenr, Flickr, Youtube – even Twitter). We can never guarantee that these services will remain free, or active, or appropriate for educational use ad infinitum. These guys are out there to make money, and if the business model they have doesn’t generate the right margin levels, then the model will change.

    True open source solutions (Elgg, Mahara. Moodle) provide a model for longevity of service, but have ownership costs (implementation, support, H/W, administration) that are all too often forgotten about by the end user, and can be comparable to the licensing costs for proprietary commercial systems.

    There is no such thing as a free lunch, and we need to roll with the punches when they come.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *