Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Innovative Educator's Plan-Ning

Now that Ning has released their new plan going forward, many innovative educators are asking what I plan to do. In a nutshell their plan indicates that networks with more than 150 members pay $19.95 per month or $200 per year for the basic package or $49 per month or $500 a year for the premium package which includes things like video, music, and unlimited storage. For mini networks of less that 150 members the fee is $2.95 a month or $20 per year.

There plan does state that a
major education company will be sponsoring Ning Mini Networks for educators in primary and secondary education. Ning will remain free for K-12 educators and their students. We’ll have details on this program soon!
but, for many of us using Ning in Ed our networks are beyond 150 members, so this does little to address the needs of the most active users in education.

I run a few networks with more than 600 members and will be making a decision on which road to take in the next month. Right now it's looking like there are two options.

Will I...
1) Stick with Ning and figure out a way to pay for it?
This is the easiest solution, but I'm not thrilled with the idea. I am an advocate of "Free for educators" platforms like Wikispaces, Google Apps, etc.
2) Go with a new free service like Wackwall or BuddyPress? This is my inclination, but it doesn't port over all the developed content meaning all our discussions and ideas are lost.

How to decide...
I'm going to see what some of the bigger network hosts like Steve Hargadon are doing. Steve is the creator of the largest education Nings. You can read his take at New Ning Plans: The Good, The Bad, and the Unknown. I will also follow what Alan November is doing with his learning network. Next, I will take a look at all the companies ready to take a piece of the market. There are many sites to check out. In fact, I was amazed to watch the speed at which the alternatives to Ning document has developed. When I first visited the document there were more than 350 other viewers looking on as well. Instantly there's a list of possibilities for educators to explore. Finally, I plan to pick the brains of other smart people in my PLN to get their insights and advice. Once I piece this all together, I'll be sure to share.
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