Monday, April 19, 2010

No More Ning: What Does this Mean For Your Class?

Lately, the biggest buzz on the education front has been all about the announcement from the Ning people that they're cutting back on their free services and will start to charge money for those who have Nings. Almost immediately, I freaked out. Why? Well, I don't personally have a Ning that I use with students, but I do belong to about a dozen Nings and use them frequently. And, I don't know what I would do without the English Companion or Making Curriculum Pop Nings.

Luckily, I don't think that either of these sites are going to shut down. Jim Burke, founder of the ECN has already stated as such. I've not heard anything from Ryan Goble, founder of the MCP Ning, but I'm sure that he'll figure something out soon. How can a network thousands of educators simply fade away? I think that we're too used to this collaboration 2.0 to give it up too easily.

But, what does this mean for classroom teachers? Those of you who've worked hard to develop dynamic, student-friendly Ning spaces? I don't know. I've heard that educators may be exempt from paying for Ning services, but that's just rumor and has no foundation in the statement put out by the Ning people. Already, other blogs and sites I follow have put together lists of free sites where teachers can set up new digs.However, I feel like I might feel pretty defeated if I has to start over after blogging for three school years. That's a lot of work.

Maybe the only realistic option if you're totally in love with your Ning setup is to pay. In his email to ECN members explaining the Ning situation, Jim Burke told us that it only costs $24.95 per year to keep his Ning going. And, I can't imagine that it'd cost more if you used it with students. Maybe this just needs to become another of costs (in a huge list, I know) of operating a dynamic, creative, and collaborative online space for your students.

What does have me worried is this question: Are other sites going to follow this path? Once we're used to paying for Ning services, are wikis and blogs and other such technologies going to become pay-only? How will this affect our ability to collaborate and meet and discuss with others in a global sense? Is there a price worth paying to keep students in touch with others in their communities and around the world?

Lots and lots of questions. No answers. I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

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