Tag Archives: community

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

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Seedlings: Growing Through Professional and Personal Learning Communities and Networks

Image from Seedling Website

Having been in education for over 32 years one might think I had finally learned all I could!  While 32 years and three degrees  may seem like a lot, I am still a Seedling, and am constantly learning from my on-line professional community/network!  I owe a great deal to all of the professional learning communities I have been a member of through out my career. Most recently my journey has taken me to PLC’s in the on-line world. Thus, the reason for this post. Please enjoy, reflect, and take some action. As always feel free to follow me on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/mjgormans) and please join me at my 21centuryedtech Wiki, a place of growing resources for educational transformation in the 21st century! Enjoy the post  – Mike (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us)

Learning Communities/Networks have extended beyond individual schools and now allow us to connect with educators through out the world. It is amazing that it is possible, at times, to  feel greater support from the virtual on-line world then the one that exists in our real-world concrete buildings. It even becomes more awesome when we understand that the virtual-online world is just as real, and at times more powerful!  We really do live in a wonderful day and age. One that allows all of to share and grow in immence ways, while enabling our students to become the very best .

From time to time I would like to visit some professional learning communities/networks in my blog posts. This will be my first attempt and I invite you to  take a virtual trip to the state of Maine.  Here, you will find an outstanding group of educators that not only understand this concept, but practice it on a daily basis. Please meet, Bob Sprankle, Cheryl Oaks, and Alice Barr who are facilitaters of a wonderful Professional Learning Community called Seedlings. (Never thought I would get you there, did you?) This community is unique due to its emphasis on a growing library of Podcasts. Upon entering the site you will be drawn first  to this diverse collection of interviews and insights. It is these Podcats that seem to take center stage at Seedlings. Airing Thursday nights at 7:30 PM EST  and archived weekly, the Podcasts allow a time for educators to listen to other educators. While you will find yourself reflecting, dreaming, and planning,  be sure to participate in  the backchannel chat!  Past talks this year have included topics on educational transformation, technology, blogging, personal learning communities,  and even parent/teacher/students conferences . Most recently, I enjoyed listening to  Richard Byrne talk about the enthusiastic work he puts in to his amazing  Freetech4teachers blog.  These podcats are an obvious reason that Seedlings was  nominated for “Best Use of Audio” by Edubloggers in 2009. While the podcasts are the highlight, be sure to visit the other areas. You will find some videos for both professional development and reflection. There are ideas for book readings, some audio book downloads, and even places to start your own book group!  Make sure you take note of the “Geek of the Week” which includes awesome content the facilitators and others have found on their individual web journeys each week.  Most of all, Seedlings is an outstanding  professional learning community that allows you to grow, reflect, and network in the confines of your own home, or from anywhere!  The facilitaors also host oustanding blogs outside of Seedlings  and these blogs are certainly worth a visit at  Bobsprankle.com, Alicebarr.org, and Cheryloakes.com. You will walk away with some neat insight and plenty to reflect upon. Take a moment and drop by the Seedling Community, listen to an archived podcast!  Better yet, join these wonderful people in Maine along with others around the world for a live session each Thursday at 7:30 PM EST. I know I will continue to be a Seedling because I really do  enjoy the proccess of growing and learning. It is  much better then being a full grown tree!

Thank you for taking this virtual trip to Maine, a state I still need to visit in the real world! I encourage you to become part of a professional learning community!  Make it happen in your building, while also finding a nurturing place to grow with others on-line.  If you would like to share  aspecial learning community please repond or comment so that we can all visit. It really is about learning from others!  As always ,I invite your follow on twitter http://www.twitter.com/mjgormans), I will return the favor and we can learn from one another. Also, please join me at my 21centuryedtech Wiki, a place of growing resources for educational transformation in the 21st century!  Have a great week! – Mike

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