Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ning Shutting Down Free Services

As posted to our Ning Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs group Ning is shutting down their free services (and laid off about 40% of their staff).  Many Ning Groups founders and administrators are advocating for free or extremely low cost Nings for education (much like how Voicethread and Wikispaces offer free premium services to educators).  It can't be said how likely or unlikely this is to happen.

However this may be an opportunity to really discuss what people who are or would be members of a social community for teachers, service providers and even some parents/caregivers of individuals with multiple, severe or low incidence disabilities would want in a social community.  Most of us who used the Ning used it to ask and answer questions and to share ideas (i.e. how do you manage having too few paras? what does your schedule look like? have you tried XYZ curriculum program?).  This could certainly be done on a listserv that comes into our e-mail box, perhaps with more participation.  For people who uses the Ning solely for that it sometimes becomes just another site to check on (I am the founder and often feel that way.  I have also often wished that Ning forwarded full e-mails to me and allowed me to reply from my e-mail instead of forcing me over to the Ning site to respond.).

There has been also been a certain level of photo sharing on the Ning, which leads me to believe that people benefit from seeing how others set things up in their classrooms.  The music and videos sharing went highly unused, which is not surprising, especially given the confidentiality issues inherent in our field.

So what is it we want?  The 250+ people who join had something in mind when they signed up, how can we meet those needs and more for ourselves in this field?  Shall we stick with Ning until they give us a final word on premium networks for education?  Shall we discuss what it is we really want/need from a social network for teachers of learners with severe or multiple disabilities (and then match features to find a new platform)?  Any suggestions or ideas?  For those 2,000 or so readers who aren't on the Ning, what would you need to join in a social network, personal learning network or listserv?

I am going to eliminate all levels of comment modification to encourage a discuss here or people can discuss on the TLWMSN Ning or our Facebook Group Take the short (seconds long) survey to help guide us.  Please, please, please participate in this discussion.  If you have used any Ning Alternatives please share your experiences.

For the record what is important to me, though others may and likely widely vary on this, would be:
  • free or free for education
  • private
  • accessible
  • not generally a site blocked at schools
  • ability to moderate members and comments (SPAM issues and "flaming" problems)
  • push to e-mail - with full content
  • photo and files sharing
  • easy connection to/integration with mobile devices (iPhone, Blackberry, etc.)
  • stable business model (so we don't have to do this again)
  • ability to import from Ning?
  • connection to other larger social networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)?
  • blog community? power user blogs? micro-blogs?

Just for everyone's information here are some of the social networking sites:


  1. brought this over from the Ning:

    I'll start some discussion here. :-)
    I just voted to use Facebook (manly because it was the option I liked best out of all those presented) BUT here are things I don't like about that option:
    1. I have the Ning in my Reader and in my blog list so it's relatively easy for me to see when someone has posted so I don't have to check it all the time. FB on the other hand, has to be checked all the time (I'm an FB virgin so if there's a way to set it to my reader that would be great); email notifications will clog up my inbox, especially when I keep getting all the notifications that so and so is now friends with..., or the stupid game crap, er, stuff, etc.
    2. I DON'T want the TLWMSN posts to get mixed in with my personal FB stuff. Too easy to miss something and I like to compartmentalize personal and professional. That means I'll have to open a second FB account and check it too
    3. From what I can tell, threads on FB aren't very effective. I really like how we can start a topic on Ning and keep all those discussions on one page. If someone replies to a thread in a new thread then things get all jumbled up and it's harder to follow a discussion.
    4. Can FB give us the privacy we need/want?

  2. Is anyone part of the WeAreTeachers micro communities? What do you think? I turned them down when they asked me to blog for them because they seemed to slick and commercial. Will we teachers of the students with very low incidence disabilities fit into a "special education community" that is mostly resource room, au...tism and ED/BD teachers? Do we want to look into it?

  3. I agree with K, I'd rather the group moved to a different platform as I too like to keep personal and professional apart.

    From a quick look at the list Kate gave, I like the look of Grouply.

  4. Should perhaps have check my work before posting!!

    ....different platfrom, meaning not facebook.


  5. Thanks a lot for the websites I found another ning alternative here since Ning became paid listing alternatives should help some people out.


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