A couple of weeks ago, we talked about the disappointing news from the Ning camp. The service had announced that they will be suspending their free service, and only offer paid-for services in the near future. There has been a lot of discussion and rants floating around the web regarding this sad turn of events. However, no group was more outraged than educators.
Today, Ning proved they are listening. The company has signed a letter of intent with a major educational publisher to keep its service free for educators. Thanks to people such as Beth Kanter, the network has realized that there is a serious need to keep the free services in some situations. “We have to ask, ‘what is the cost of free?’” she said. This is in reference to many services and sites like Ning who shut down free versions… often without any warning at all.
The new paid versions will roll out in July. The good news is that the premium package – now called ‘Ning Pro’ – is going to cost a bit less than it did in the past. There will be three levels of paid service: Ning Mini, Ning Plus and the Ning Pro. Costs jump from $3.00 per month to $50.00 per month for the Pro version. The mid-level form will run a user around twenty bucks every thirty days. Ning is also promising new features based on user demand:
We’ll start with many of the things Network Creators have been asking for and extend the service from there. The end of Ning promotional links, leading to a more customized, branded experience for you and your members. An ad free experience and the option to run your own ads — if you like. Easy content export and back-up. The end of Ning ID and ability to add Facebook and Twitter sign-in. API access for a more integrated experience. The ability to charge for membership and accept donations.
I’m happy to see a few of these changes, and am waiting for even more to come about. I know that on our Geeks Ning network, we have a serious need for better ways to deal with unwanted members and spammers. We need more control over how members are managed and removed.
What are your thoughts about this newest development? Are you an educator who makes use of this platform? If so… will you now be sticking with the service, or choosing something different?