This post is dedicated to all of those NING users, like myself, that are wondering if a paid service from NING is an option to examine, or is there still a free alternative? After all, I have always like the price of free. In this free posting I share my epic one hour journey as I searched for a free NING. While I relate my travels, I do uncover a possibility by the end of this post! Join me on twitter (@mjgormans) and please continue to read as we possibly uncover a free like NING entity! Enjoy… – Mike
Yes, it is true! By now you are aware that NING will be changing its marketing policy with a new emphasis on a pay service as outlined in this recent article from CNET. Perhaps the new charges will be well worth it and should even include enhanced features! While this is very possible, my first reaction to this news was to search for services that are already a lot like the NING I have always enjoyed. I even wanted to find it at a price I have become familiar with. For me, that includes a hosted service that costs less then one cent. So, like many of you may have already done, I searched and searched! I read tweet upon tweet! I even looked through Blogs from people much more knowledgeable then myself. I realize that replacing an already existing NING site may be almost impossible. I was only looking for a site that may help those wanting to set up a small professional development learning community.
I of course found open source Drupal, and Elgg! There is even Dutch software called Barnraiser. I am sure these are awesome community building software pieces, but like the people I share with; I am an educator. I integrate technology to engage learners! I need a service that provides the server, hosting, and ease of use. Of course Facebook could be an option for those clever individuals able to convince the proper individuals in their learning communities to unblock it! But then some school officials are afraid of Wallwisher, a very strange fear for those who enjoy building walls! I did come across a message from Posterous that gave an encouraging message that stated it would be building a NING Blog importer! I felt I was getting closer!
Now I know there are a lot of social networking sites but I was looking for one that reminded me of my free old friend. In my final minutes of this dedicated hour I stumbled upon Webs.com. On their site they state, “We provide all the tools you need to create a professional looking website in just minutes. Create a site and community where anyone can connect and collaborate“. There was the C word I had been looking for! There was even a button to learn more. The text kept telling me what I wanted to hear, “At Webs, we provide all the tools you need to create a professional-looking website in just minutes. Add a blog, forum, calendar, photo gallery, video gallery and much more. Want to turn your site into a social network? No problem! You also have the ability to add members and create personal profiles so you can turn your site into a community where friends, colleagues and family can connect and collaborate“. I kept reading the included features; over 300 templates, easy to use page editor, organize and share photos, show and share video, communicate through blogs and forums, set dates and events on calendar, and access and add widgets from around the web. I set up a site and it asked who I would like to invite to my community! There was even the option and the ability to add new communities! You may wish to look at over thirty video tutorials that are available at the web site. Best of all the price was free and included up to 40 mb storage.
No, I am not sure if Webs is the answer to the loss of a free NING, but it does have some of the same capabilities. Even if it is not a NING replacement it appears to be a pretty powerful web site builder. There are even education templates complete with areas for assignments, handouts, and resource. My hour of searching had ended and I will allow you to be the judge if I even came close to accomplishing my goal. I am happy to say that the only cost to me was 60 minutes! By the way if you have any comments, alternatives, or suggestions… please share. It doesn’t cost a thing!
Thanks for joining me for another venture into the world of 21st Century Learning. You can follow me twitter (@mjgormans) and the only cost is my follow back so I can learn from you! Please take a moment to subscribe by RSS or email and you are always welcome to visit me at my 21centuryedtech Wiki! Have a great week! – Mike