Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pay for Ning?

Darn. The other day I read that Ning networks will have to be paid for - you can read it for yourself here. Now I always wonder just how all these wonderfully useful sites actually make any money for their creators - how they even pay their way at all - though I know that advertising comes into it. But I'm sad about the Ning story simply because I've just created a new network for a small group doing distance learning for a module on reading the Bible. It's a closed network, so that I have to invite people to join it, and as such provides a safe space for homework, work in progress and discussion about difficulties and enthusiasms.

It is particularly important because the members of this group are scattered over such a wide area, with only two of them even in the same part of Argyll. It would be prohibitively expensive, not to say draining, to meet face-to-face as frequently as the course requires, and it is actually quite difficult to share relatively complex ideas over a telephone conference. The Ning network gives members a chance to experiment with, among other things, writing styles in preparation for the formal assignments which will have to be assessed, and it gave me as facilitator the opportunity to offer a bit of practical help on essay-writing. I have yet to try out the chat facility - haven't managed to coincide online with anyone yet - and would be interested to know if anyone out there has used it. Ideally, it'd be great to be able to be reading someone's stuff and commenting on it live.

I know there are other options for this kind of thing, but I plumped for a Ning because it is relatively unthreatening for people who tend not to use any kind of social networking sites. It doesn't really work for the one person on the course who doesn't yet have broadband, and there are still hiccups with people learning where to put comments, but I was optimistic - until now. The participants on the course have already paid to be on it, and the budget is small. Is it only a matter of time before we have to pay for all our social networking?


  1. I expect I will be moving the only ning I use over to BuddyPress once the new version of Wordpress is out in a few weeks time.

    Upcoming version of Moodle also worth noting. It will be interesting to see whether they manage to make moodle feel easier to use for newcomers and non-nerds.

  2. I was slightly daunted by Moodle - and I'm the nerdiest of the bunch, I think. :-«

  3. Mrs Tosh5:31 PM

    I believe that if a product has value, then it is worth paying for.

    Every service has a price, it is just that web providers to date have struggled to obtain a fair price - I think that is changing

  4. Dunno whether Moodle can be used peer to peer or whether it needs a server? You can do a lot with Google groups and Google docs, though. I'd be happy to help.

  5. Thanks for the offer, Shak - I'll need to wait and see what the group want to do before I start looking around.

  6. Alison12:07 PM

    Have followed this with interest. I agree that Moodle seems a bit daunting and more than our small group needs. Continuing with Ning should be viable unless they charge a fortune - it surely can't be more than cost of car travel to meetings.

    On a practical note, I'm still not getting any email notifications of postings to ning...?

  7. I heard about that too. I think the stronger companies will be able to provide most of their services for free while providing optional for-fee services.

    You could create a private group on Facebook to discuss things or google documents to share and edit things.