Friday, April 23, 2010

Ning Survey of Educators & My Notes

John McDonald, the VP Advocacy for Ning, has sent me the link to an online survey that they are hoping educators will fill out to tell them about their use of Ning for educational networks.  The survey is at, and if you have created or run any Ning networks, I encourage you to fill it out.  Ning is asking for responses by this Monday, April 26th.  (I encountered two error while filling out the survey, but have alerted John and hopefully they'll be corrected quickly.  Currently, you can't indicate having created more than 18 networks, and the email and membership responses for network #7 create errors.)

John called me earlier in the week, having heard about our live event, and we talked for about 45 minutes.  I think it's hard for a company like Ning, since they are really not in the education market and don't have a background there, to fully understand how much of what takes place falls into the category of the "gift economy."    I also tried to communicate that much of the work that has been done to build up Ning networks--as creators and contributors--has been done by individual educators, without institutional support, and on their own time.  Many of those who have created and lovingly cultivated Ning communities don't have someone they can turn to who would fund the cost of premium services; and those who do have institutions behind them may have a hard time justifying the costs of their networks, as they often cut across traditional institutional boundaries.

I also expressed concern about the content which has already been created under assumptions of it being freely available.  When he asked how many networks I thought were classroom versus professional development focused, I really had no idea.  My guess is that we lean heavily toward the latter because of COPPA, cultural, and practical concerns around classroom use.

John seemed genuinely interested in understanding the education market, and mentioned a couple of times that he was going to watch the recording of our event.  I hope he does, as I think he'll see a rich and nuanced picture of the education community using Ning.


  1. In addition to the appreciation you expressed for Ning in the elluminate session, I would like to express appreciation for you. I know that I would not have started any educational ning networks were it not for Classroom 2.0 and your influence.

    Thank you for being the go-between for Ning and the educational community. I hope that something can be worked out.

  2. Thank you, Steve, for organising the live event and for keeping us posted on developments.

    Already filled in the survey, tweeted and posted about it so as to reach as many people as possible before the deadline.

  3. Thanks for the news, Steve. I'll be sure to respond to the survey and encourage others to do the same.

    As for me, I'm glad there's dialog going on. I choose to remain hopeful that Ning will choose an socially enlightened path, that it will continue to provide educators with graceful and intuitive social networking platforms, at no, or at low/manageable/reasonable, costs.

    For all of us, it's a time to think creatively. The great thing is that we're meeting up and can generate ideas together.

    Ning should step up. And we should help Ning step up. How can we uplift each other?

    Would love to ask Ning: What have you learned so far from working with the educators (and by that I mean people who are interested in learning), what have you learned by seeing how they use your tool? (Would you like help in design? :-) What have you learned about the way educators are going about using educational networking?

    I'm thinking--and hoping--that Ning is learning a lot from us.

    Seems like we've pushed the tool in substantially new directions.

    So proud and pleased to be with the bunch of people at the Learn Central gathering hosted by Steve--and the people who would have been there but couldn't. Educational networkers. We've got a lot of creativity in our group about ways to interconnect in addition to or other than Ning. I am certain that we'll continue learning together, one way and another.

    My bet for Ning is that giving to the world by continuing to support educators is a good strategy for accomplishing a lot of positive ends, for the people, for the company, for the world.

    May I add in here is that maybe we could all help by supporting a need-based scale--or regional scale, or something--so that we don't divide the world but help to raise all boats.

    Sorry, talked too long, and there's one more thing I want to say!


    Echoing Matthew's sentiments, huge thanks go out to you, Steve. I think of you as Visionary for creating Classroom 2.0, which has been a world-changer for educators everywhere.

    You inspired a new direction, of educators taking the helm and "trying stuff"--and provided a way for us to facilitate each others' learning. It all took off from what got going at CR20. Great experience, great modeling; a million thanks!

  4. I was wondering about educators like me who teach higher education classes. Like my K-12 colleagues, I am not funded to teach online classes on Ning, but I do so to support social learning so critical to online communities of inquiry.

    Will we be included in the pricing structure developed by Ning especially for educators? All expenses for using Ning will be paid out-of-pocket by me (and by many other of my fellow teachers at our university).

    Thank you in advance for any info!


  5. Anonymous1:06 AM

    Hi Steve,
    Thanks for the link. I have completed the survey.
    It may be an option for Ning to gain kudos from acknowledging, even advertising the fact, that Ning sites for educators are free. That stance would be welcomed by Ning educators and could be viewed as an excellent business decision.
    I like my Ning sites - 2 of my own and two others I co-administer but payment is not an option. Like most, I'm awaiting the may announcement from Ning about rates.

  6. Thanks Steve for being an advocate for our education based Ning communities. I had been disappointed by the lack of vision in this recent announcement, but have hope that a mutually beneficial decision can be made.

    However, in the end it isn't the product that makes a community, it is the people and with or without Ning, we will have that.

  7. Hi - I'm afraid I'm too late for the survey - but one argument for maintaining free Nings for Education which I don't see mentionned very often is that surely - today's students are tomorrow's clients ... It does seem a very short sighted decision ... but there we go, most people have already found alternatives !

  8. Anonymous6:01 PM

    Here's the feedback I sent to the announcement:
    Please DO NOT phase out educational free sites.
    We DON'T make enough money to pay for them.
    If you phase them out - you will lose our business.
    Do you want that negative advertising?


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