No Such Thing As A Free NING? … Look What I Found!


C Commons http://farm1.static.flickr.com/26/61056391_31343afdc6.jpg

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

29 Comments

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29 responses to “No Such Thing As A Free NING? … Look What I Found!

  1. Check out 2Learn2Gether.ca – a nice (Canadian) alternative! Great privacy policy compared to Ning too! @dannymaas

  2. This was time well spent for me!! Thanks for sharing your findings.

  3. Colleen Young

    A colleague and I found WackWall this morning, we are investigating!

    • Colleen,

      Thanks for giving me a new site to explore. Let me know what you find out. I appreciate you sharing with me and other readers! Enjoy the weekend! – Mike

  4. Colleen Young

    http://www.webs.com/premium.jsp

    Look at the storage with the free account – limited possibly, depending on what you want to do.

    • Rachel

      i heard about ning shutting down their free accounts.. and saw on webs.com that they offer basically the same thing as ning, and even more cool options.. i actually have a webs.com account, and you can build a completely free social network website in just a few minutes..

      it’s definitely worth checking out:
      http://www.webs.com

    • Colleen

      I agree, it could be a limitation. I always have problems judging storage space, especially when images and videos are part. – Mike

  5. Imelda Judge

    Noooooooooo! I have six Nings! Many especially designed and private for my student groups! Not happy! Thanks for your research! It will save me some time!

    • Imelda,
      That was my first thought also. It will be hard on those that have so much invested. I am not sure if I have provided an answer, but do let me know how it works out! Thanks for reply – Mike

  6. Soaad

    mixxt.at This is also a nice network, it looks similar to Ning.

    • Soaad,

      Thanks for your reply! I plan on looking at mxxt.at. It is great when we can learn from each other. Hope to see you back here! Enjoy your week! – Mike

  7. Mike, Thanks for doing this work. You are my hero.
    Cheryl

    I am really saddened that we won’t be able to use Ning for our 8th grade project. But, now I will be able to find other options. Whew.

  8. Cheryl,
    Thanks so much! If you use the site let me know how it goes. It just looked so NING like to me! Always good to hear from you and I do hope spring is coming on strong in Maine as it is here in Indiana! Have a wonderful week! – Mike

  9. The only problem with webs.com is if you have a problem, there is no customer service to email to get the problem sorted. I tried webs.com, got as far
    as the first page and there was no way of loading anything on to it. The FAQ had no answers to my dilemma and you cannot email the provider.
    It is still a blank page and the only way I will get it sorted is to write a letter and post it in the mail.
    In this day and age we are having to use envelopes and postage stamps to ask the web provider how do I load up the web page because there is no tools whatsoever.
    Another free provider I am using is SocialGo. Similar to Ning, but you cannot set it out like you can set out a Ning page.
    The thing is the new CEO wants Ning to be add free. By turning down any income they were getting from google adds, the creators that pay for their Ning sites will be paying more to make up that loss of income.
    When said anyone can create their own network on Ning for free, they didn’t say it’s only free untill Ning changes it’s mind.
    My network will be there until Ning takes it off.
    Any help will be appreciated. I live in the UK by the way.

    • Lester,

      First, thanks for the informative reply. It is this type of interaction that helps us learn from each other. I went into Webs and found this page http://support.webs.com/webs?from_gsfn=true
      It did say that if you ask a question and leave email they will get back. I did note that hours were M-F 8-6 US EST. I also noted they were answering the questions it appeared to be in 24 hour period. Also found this contact page
      http://www.webs.com/pages/contact/

      If you make any further attempts please let me know how it goes. I agree that you should keep your items at NING until hearing otherwise (but also back up and safe guard any of your hard work on the site)

      As I said, this was my one hour search and I liked it because it was so NING like. If any other readers find success or problems please reply.

      Last, I have noted some others leaving replies on the site of other alternatives. I will try to check them and if any others do information would be appreciated!

      Bottom line, the fact you are using NING is impressive and shows that you are a part of a network of educators that understand the power of technology and its impact on 21st century learning!

      Thanks so much for your time and keep us posted. Have a great week! – Mike

  10. Pingback: Social Computing Platforms

  11. Thanks for the positive feedback! I think NING had a huge following and the potential to make he money from its ability to market from its site. Google has been a pro at this. Perhaps NING will turn it around but more then likely someone new will fill the niche. Only problem is the vast set of assets sitting at NING as a network and as individuals work. NING has been a great product although my first disappointment was taking away search function. By the way I enjoyed reading your post and also checked out the Igloo possibility. It appears to be an off shoot of the Barnraiser (dutch Company I had referred to). Here is its link:
    http://savannah.nongnu.org/projects/igloo/

    Again thanks for the reply and let me know if you find out anything new. I will continue to check your posts – Mike

  12. elramsay

    BuddyPress and WordPress together offer a lot of the features you can find at NING, plus the power of WordPress blogging.

    There are already a variety of importers available.
    Free: http://teleogistic.net/code/wordpresswordpress-mu/import-from-ning/

    and a premium one available at wpmu.org

  13. Pingback: My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (weekly) | My Squirrelly View of Education

  14. Upon reading different comments I found this post very interesting. Thanks for this wonderful info!!!!!!! More power!!!!!

  15. Pingback: mixxt » Welcome to a new social networking experience and a reliable Ning-Importer

  16. I used the trial version of Ning for a project in my graduate studies, and was a bit disappointed to discover it right after the fact it was no longer free. I have been searching for alternatives to using Ning and I am glad to read here that there are many potential sites that are similar. Thanks!

    • Ning is really such an awesome resource. Possibly to good to be free? I really do hope that some of the alternatives I listed will help you out. If you find any please let me know! Wishing you the best as you establish learning communities in the 21st century! – Mike

  17. Hey! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m
    undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

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