I have spent a lot of time and energy creating my ning network for my students. For those who have never used ning, it was a free service where you could create your own social network a la Facebook, but with more safety features. I am already part of several ning networks that I find I can't live without. http://arted20.ning.com has been a life line for me as I created new technology saturated curriculum for our art program. The personal learning network (PLN) that I was able to establish through this ning network was phenomenal. I have collaborated with educators from all over the US and China and Great Britain. There are collaborative projects you can join, images of student work, videos that pertain to art education and technology and a lot of support. If you are the administrator of one of these networks it will not longer be free.
I have waited until the last minute to make my decision about Ning because I really had to examine how valuable it was or wasn't in my classroom. If I go with the Ning mini that is being sponsored by Pearson Education for the first year it will still be free, but the ning will be greatly diminished. I will lose the groups function, which for me was the part I used the most as I had a different group for each of the classes I taught. Students posted images, blog posts, videos and answers to research and writing prompts on the ning. This will be gone.
The article Ning: Failures, Lessons and Six Alternatives has some great insights into the evolution of the paid ning network. The part I was most interested in of course were the freebies. As an educator I don't have money to pay for frilly extras and this would in the end become that. I have to be creative and find another way to do the same thing, but for free. That is the joy of web 2.0 isn't it? You can always find a free version of just about everything.
I haven't checked out any of the alternatives yet, but would love to hear from you if you have. What do you use? What will you be doing with your ning? I loath having to do all the work again of setting up yet another network, but if it will be free and maybe even better than ning I will do it. There were often problems with our ning posts and frankly the ning network administrators weren't very timely or helpful in resolving them. I guess you get what you pay for or do you? With the poor track record in resolving problems why would I pay for a product (199.00 a year) that may or may not be serviced in the way I want. I pay for my Flickr Pro account and I get everything I want and more. The ning price tag seems exorbitant and unrealistic for all the educators that are out there.
Would love to hear from you about this...
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