As some of you may know, the free social network site NING (which I use for several classes) has recently begun changes which would eliminate the free version. I followed and participated on an online webconference between some of the people involved with web 2.0 in education and the CEO of NING a few weeks ago, as he spent a great deal of time trying to understand how educators used NING, and how much need there would be to keep it free for educators. What he found was that thousands of educators use NINGS for their classrooms, and most would discontinue using the program if it want to a fee-based program.
Well, this week I got an email from the CEO, as all current NING subscribers also got, which read, in part:
We’ll be phasing out all free Ning Networks.
We want to provide a new level of innovation to Network Creators — including all the valuable features Network Creators have asked us to build. To get there, we need to focus 100% on paid Ning Networks. This phasing out of free services won’t happen until July, so you’ll have plenty of time to weigh your options. We’ll do our best to provide you with a migration path if you don’t wish to continue with Ning, but we’d love to have you come along for all of the exciting future developments.
So. After all that, no love whatsoever for educators. The prediction is that at $499 per year to retain the same functionality, educators will leave NING in droves. I will, and I hate to sound bitter, but I am advising others to do the same.
The good news: TRY GROUP.US!!! This is about the same as NING, with, as far as I can tell after about an hour of builing a site on it, EVEN MORE FEATURES than NING had. I would reccommend moving your free mini-network to this site, as it is the leading competitor to NING, and is expected to take over as the preffered site of educators…I just hope they don’t get ideas of going fee based! A news release mentioned that the people of GROU.PS are “welcoming people from NING, and intend to be free use.”
More on this as I use it more… Please post any thoughts or experiences you have had with GROUP.US.