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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Please add my thanks to the long list! Your work with creating this PLN has been inspirational. Let's hope the free for education donor comes through.
I posted this comment on Jan 28 2009:
"I've said this before and I'll say it again--in a year or so many of the sites will be gone and the rest will charge a fee so signing up will be moot! I saw this with all the neat Web 1.0 stuff in the late 90s. That didn't answer your question--I don't mean to be so contrary but maybe they don't need all these tools to learn. Ask yourself--is this tool making the teaching and learning richer, deeper, more complexed? Sometimes I get the feeling that "the tool's the thing" and not the knowledge."

Of course the topic was different and I'm no prophet but 'duh'. Do you think all this cool stuff was created because people wanted to help us be better teachers and kids better learners? No, these applications are moneymakers.
On the other hand, maybe they (the students) do need all these tools to learn, especially when having them means they have more access to the material and to my assistance when I'm not trying to manage a classroom with 35 students, deal with interruptions by the administration, and teaching in 57-minute chunks. We are also serving the goals of the platform/software designers and creators: we expose our students to the technology. They, in turn, become (frequently paying) users. This is why companies such as Microsoft and Adobe make their software packages so affordable to academics: we're training their future customers.

We're doing the same for Ning. Mark Andreesson knows this: he's the guy behind Netscape Navigator and Firefox, and the Chairman of Ning.
I agree with Dawn. There are a lot of really innovative ways to use social networking in education well. We can't let our fears keep us from utilizing a tool that could help our students learn. There are lots of ways to monitor classroom social networks, and I think it's part of our job to teach students expectations for appropriate social networking.

I've heard so many stories of how social networking improved teaching, I simply can't just write it off.

As far a Ning goes, it's frustrating but I think Edmodo provides a great free alternative, plus it integrates features like a gradebook so teachers can collect assignments via their social networks.

If anyone is interested in cool ways teachers are integrating social networking into K-12 lessons, check out my recent blog post.
Hi Katy,
I agree that we will continue to use social networking in education as students and teachers. If Ning is no longer free some other program will take it's place for awhile and those who wish to remain part of Ning will pay.
Thanks for the blog link.
Thanks for your great blog post. We use an old version of Blackboard in our district, and I think Edmodo might be a great alternative.

Justin
Let's share how we are using Nings in the non-profit/education world. Also, let's brainstorm ideas on how to develop a reasonable business model for educator and non-profit use. Also, share where you would take your network in a worst case scenario! I've created a survey for us to gather our thoughts.

Survey can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/ningsfornonprofits
Results can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/ningsfornonprofitsresults
Great idea, Lucy - I've just added my responses - thanks for getting this started!
I have built a number of Ning for African communities to tell there story like http://purposedrivenedcenter.ning.com
These will have to come down for his top 5% margin.

In my way to long history with dot coms, VC and new management I have seen this to many time before. Chase Manhattan Bank made this mistake shooting only for the deep pockets and then have to repair customer relations for years.

It goes like this.
The financial guy see that 90% of the margin comes form the top 5%l and and thinks that putting all the energy into serving them is the way to go. Many companies have made this mistake. It it is a very high risk strategy.

Hear is Ning new ball park over the next six weeks:

1. If Ning has a mass exit of sites the advertisers will pull or demand lower rates from lower hits... short term loss. Think Match wants the top 5%?
2. If Ning shuts down schools Ning in this economy the press will have a field day... long term loss
3. The top 5% are their because of size breath and depth of the base community.. Brand value and exit erodes that.
4. Brands key importance is trust, already the blogs are cry betrayal.... Bad news Long term loss Even in thier own blog Yikes!
5. People like me have already have archived my community and duplicated the assets on slide share and You Tube... Ning can loose control of market erosion...
6. Developers are already discussion competitive options... Loss of strategic advantage... Long term loss
7. Sudden service changes greatly impacts brand recongnition and confusion. So is Ning just for the rich?
8. High margin big sales require a diferent sales force. Corpoart re-engineering of sales and product.... Time slips
9. The most important sale if the referal.... Many of us choose and recommend Nings because of company brand stability. With one foolish memo this CEO managed to do years of PR damage. Just how he made the announcement speaks mountains of the company culture and product shift.

In my walk through IT marketing and strategic consulting I watched names like Digital and Wang go to na na land with moves like this. Ning is need of PR agency now. I love this product. This new CEO better be really good with community relations. Or perhaps Google will buy it.

If the VCs are smar,t he will be in their office in the morning. And better figure out away to grandfather all those little school kids and developing country Nings if he wants to keep that top 5%.

Well thats my 2 cents. Hey ..... Is it really true that Linix runs on 87% of the world super computers. And what ever happened IBM Warp OS and their Power PC?

No Brand is invincible.... Any one want my Oldsmobile or a Saturn cheap?

Richard
Richard:

Fascinating, and I think, likely very accurate.

Based on current statements, it appears that Ning users will have the choice to pay to keep their networks and content active, or will lose all the work that has been done. I just don't think Ning will be able to do that without completely enraging their user base. So the next couple of weeks should be very interesting.
At the very least, it shows a blatant disregard for the work so many have put their hearts and souls into, for free. What is the message in that?
A provocative article: Good News; No More Free Ning Social Networks!

basically saying:
"Ning is doing away with the "Free Website" part of their business model... I applaud Ning for changing course for the better... Why? Because those freebie networks they have been providing like AOL CD's in the 90's seem to be most often the 1 and 2 member social networks with little to no traffic, that are rarely updated, nor do they ever seem to provide any valuable content. The Freebie Ning based sites do nothing more than clutter up search results and waste resources. "

"If you’re the creator of a social network, you should probably be passionate about the hobby, interest, community or business you decided to build a network around. And you should be attracting and enlisting equally passionate users as part of your community management plan. If you and your community can’t find a way to pay a modest monthly fee for the goods and services you use in your network, you might have one of two problems: You’re not passionate enough to moderate a community on your topic, or your topic isn’t inspiring your network to keep it afloat."

Hmmm interesting: And as technology educators aren't we passionate enough? Aren't we worth the $?...i mean really $300 a year for 1000+ members? Steve Hargadon seems to think so! And what's good enough for Steve is good for me! [preen]

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