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
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?