I love these Nings and have gotten so many great ideas from them.  But there have been major changes and Nings will no longer be free!  Boooooo!  I think they should let those already established be "grandfathered" in.  What are your thoughts?

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The sponsored free ning network will look and act quite differently from the free network we get now- no video uploads (videos can be embedded from a different source, such as youtube or teachertube), no groups, no audio file uploads, and a limit of 150 persons to your ning.

There are also a 1 GB storage limit, and a limit of 3 text boxes on the main page. Here is the pricing and feature plan, so you can take a look.
I completely agree - this is an unacceptable change in my opinion. I enjoy all of the features like the chat, forum, groups, uploading videos,etc that I would have to pay 500 dollars a year to get back! That is lame.
I have blogged on my analysis today: http://www.stevehargadon.com/2010/05/new-ning-plans-good-bad-and-un....

The comments here, and on my blog post, are good additional insight. Thanks.
I'm disappointed, even with the free Ning mini for educators. Without groups and some of the other features, the Ning mini is useless. It's basically just a blog/wiki which I can create for free any place else. I am also concerned that continuing to use Ning will only create problems in the future because I can't trust what the situation will be like a year from now. Building a Ning site is very time consuming and the more you develop your site, the less likely you are to move your site somewhere else, and that's when Ning has got you. This year it's $500, next year could be $550 even $1000. Can you imagine that? When you've put in so much time, gathered so many members, what else can you do but stay and pay? I don't like that feeling of powerlessness. I can't change Ning so I'm focusing my energy on finding other alternatives.
I completely agree with you. They have not proven themselves to be a company with integrity. They have pulled a bait-and-switch on us.

And you're right you can get the same features (and more) for free on other websites as the "Ning mini"
I have concerns with Ning's "free to K-12 educators" offer, and I have notified Ning of my concerns: my post to them is 5th comment under the pricing announcement on their blog. As I stated, I am very concerned that the 150-member limit on the Ning "Mini" excludes those of us at the middle and high schools as our teaching loads are normally more than 150 students. The loss of the Groups feature means that we can't create groups for different courses and then tailor content for that course that is not accessible to the other students. The loss of Chat means that my students can't ask me questions in the evening when they're working on their homework or projects. The loss of Notes and Pages means I can't upload copies of my syllabi, curriculum schedules, handouts, or class-generated notes for students to access, download or print out. Loss of Events means my students no longer have an easy-to-reference calendar of upcoming assignments and tests. Loss of Ning Apps such as Huddle Workspaces and Quiz negates the collaborative possibilities of Web 2.0.

I've enjoyed working with Ning. I like the look and feel of the platform, and it has provided a great deal of data for my Master's thesis/project. Unfortunately, what they are offering to educators feels more like a well-picked bone rather than a genuine offer to support those of us who are training their future customer base.
Well put, Dawn.
No More Free Ning?
05/5/2010: Grouply annnounces an alternative... FREE for educators

...a special package of premium services offered at no charge to qualifying education groups such as schools, classrooms, and parent teacher associations (PTAs).

Announcing the Grouply for Education package:

And, the Ning-to-Grouply migration tool:

Migration of your Ning content takes just minutes. I was able to migrate the content of one of my groups seamlessly in a few minutes.
This looks very promising. I'm intrigued and would be interested in hearing more of your thoughts on Grouply as it compares to Ning. Also, do you know if there is a limit to how many sites we can create?
The migration process is simple. Still too soon for me to comment on comparisons with Ning.

I don't believe there is any limit on the number of sites you can create. Why don't you give the CEO, Mark Robins, a phone call. He is very open and accessible, and I know Grouply has given top priority to responding to the need in the education community created by Ning's direction.

Mark Robins - (650) 568-9824

Well said - nearly all of this applies as I contemplate how to approach discussing future use of ning vs other options in my educational setting.
I'm surprised no-one has mentioned advertising... I assume that (oh, I'm very new to Ning btw - so sorry if this off track)... I assume that Ning was making money originally through advertising? The more hits a site got, the more advertising revenue Ning received.
If they transfer the advertising rights over to the owner of the site, I wonder at what point the site can break even. For instance, say you pay $20 per month for the network, how many hits do you need to recoup that $20 in advertising revenue?
As an education Ning, I assume that there's a little anxiety about advertising... but as a way to resolve the 'not-for-profit but we've got to pay' argument, couldn't this help solve the problem?
(be gentle with me in replies... as I said, I'm new to this ;0)



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