Why Ning needs an ad free education platform.

I love Ning. I really do.

I’m just not all that happy with them right now.

Those of you who follow this blog will know that I started a Ning for our Yr 9 English classes in February this year. It’s been fantastic. A true learning community has formed and it’s become embedded into the fabric of our Yr 9 curriculum. I’m loving the engagement that is possible and the way I can connect with students who aren’t in my actual class. Just tonight I was showing it to parents at our Parent Teacher night. All were impressed and could see the benefits to student learning that this environment promoted. I asked Ning to remove the ads before the students had even joined and they were happy to oblige.

I also help to run Working together 2 make a difference, a Ning site that encourages educators to come together to share their experiences with service learning projects. Once again, I asked Ning to remove the ads and once again, they were happy to oblige.

Last week I had a moment to savour. Yr 9 students who actively engage in our English Ning came to see me to see if I could help them set up a Ning for their Sleepout 4 Schools initiative. They’d figured out that Ning was the best platform for them to engage the wider community in what they are doing.  Sleepout 4 Schools is a school project involving our Yr 9 students; they are holding a fundraiser for our school community on May 22nd in an attempt to raise some money for Daraja Academy and the Bal Ashram in India. The students are working very hard to plan an evening where we will sleepover at school, have fun, skype with Mark Lukach hopefully and raise some money that will help to make a difference.

We set the Ning up. They are working as administrators of the Ning as well and are excited about the possibilities. They are trying to engage other surrounding schools in this service learning and are using the Ning as a tool for connecting. I asked Ning to take the ads off.

They didn’t oblige.   

And so began the email process of me asking (begging really) and them denying.  Our most recent email correspondance saw me ask this;

 Dear Ning team,

Sorry to continue to dispute this, but it is a direct part of our program and is a vital ingredient in the teaching of our students. We are endeavouring to have our students create positive digital footprints for themselves in safe and ethical ways. Having ads that display free video chats for girls is not what I feel is a good advertisement encouraging safe and ethical use. If you look at the domain names of the members they are all students from our school. We are trying to encourage global involvement with other schools to have them participate as well.

Can I please ask you to reconsider once again.

 

Reply from Ning was this;  

 

 

Dear Jenny,

 

 

Thanks for the follow-up. Once again, while we definitely respect what you’re doing, this simply isn’t covered by what our program is offering. You’re still welcome to purchase the Go Ad-Free premium service, and you can find more details here: 

http://help.ning.com/cgi-bin/ning.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=3547&p_created=1233612091 

Best, 

 

The Ning Team 

 

 Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it hard to understand how Sleepout for Schools differs from the intentions of the Yr 9 English Ning and Working together 2 make a difference. It’s a school project, set up by and for students. It’s about EDUCATION.    

Wikispaces and other Wiki creation companies are friendly to K – 12 education. You don’t have to request that ads be removed; they trust that if you tick that box saying it’s for K – 12 use it will be and a Wiki is provided ad free.   

Ning is offering an amazing platform that can be utilised so well in education. Please, those of you making decisions at Ning, think about offering a service for education that will encourage users to explore its potential. We need an ad free service; one that won’t expose students to inappropriate ads that make it hard for us to justify the use of what is an excellent resource in school settings.  

 

 

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Why Ning needs an ad free education platform.

  1. I understand your irritation, I don’t mind the ads with my students simply because I teach them to ignore them, (I think a worthwhile endeavor.) My problem is their license that won’t allow students under 13 to use their site. I want to create nings for my whole school to use next year. Unless I get permission, I will either have to tell my students to lie, or I won’t be able to use them until grade 6. If something doesn’t give, I will have to look for a new platform to use.
    Mr. C

  2. jennylu

    Totally agree with you on that one. It is such a worthy resource; the community you can create is so rewarding for students. I hope they start to rethink some of their practice to make it more user friendly for education.

  3. Ajax

    This is a great post. From what I read though it sounds as though you’re a little unhappy with Ning. While I understand that your student is making a network in a way related to education, Ning probably just has some nuances that make it not possible to remove the ads. You always have to draw the line somewhere. Either way your student still has a social network for FREEEEEE(!!!), which is an unbelievable thing when you think about it.

    Yeah sometimes the google ads are dumb (borderline racy) but as a teacher it’s probably a good chance to talk to them about advertising, educated internet usage and the media.

    That’s just my 2 cents :)

    • jennylu

      I’d like to know what those nuances are. I agree, Ning being a free platform is fantastic, but I think they need to come up with something for education. It is a good opportunity to talk with the students about ads, but when you are trying to get adoption of social networking tools in school environments, ads for webchats for girls just doesn’t cut it in my opinion.

  4. CTait

    This is so disappointing. I was planning on using a Ning with my extension class next semester. I’m with you Jenny, why can’t they just have a K-12 friendly option; I mean it shouldn’t be too much to ask. While it might be alright to discuss the merits of advertising, most of the time it’s just not appropriate! We try and teach appropriate and responsible use of technology how can we say that when Ning won’t come to the party and meet us half way? All very frustrating.

  5. I can’t see the difference, Jenny, and you know I’ve had my own problems with NING. Three weeks I’ve been trying to get help to solve a problem which affects my administrative options in creating the NING, and the emails I’ve written have not been acknowledged, then suddenly someone comes on and I have to start all over again. It’s unfortunate because my class has had to go back to word docs.

  6. Hi Jenny,
    I totally agree with you! I haven’t used Ning in an education setting yet, but what a fantastic idea. How very frustrating that you can’t get your point across to the Ning team!
    Keep up your excellent work!
    Kathleen

  7. Mike

    Jenny,

    This is really shameful of Ning to behave this way. We are experiencing similar roadblocks and unwillingness remove the ads as well.

    Gina Bianchini and her team once again exemplify everything they claim not to be as a company: corporate, inhuman and greedy.

    On our side, we will have no choice but to agree to this shakedown for 25 dollars per month – until we can find another solution.

    Next stop, Elgg.

    • jennylu

      Although I do believe they should offer an ad free platform for education, I wouldn’t go as far as to accuse them of being inhuman and greedy! The Ning platform is a wonderful vehicle for educational purposes, and it is free – I am pretty grateful for that. I understand that companies need to make money, I’d just like them to offer an ad free platform easily for educators.

      • Mike

        True – they do have a fantastic platform, but with all the businesses out there and individuals and groups using the service, it seems that they can flex a bit more when it comes to helping schools, teachers and kids.

        I am partial and a bit harsh with them because I look at it this way – any dollars that go into their pockets means less dollars that can be put towards helping a bunch of awesome kids who really need the support.

        Thanks for this post, it is invaluable information.

  8. Rick

    So what are the other options?

    I just set up a ning for my seventh grade class and was testing it out – then I saw the sexy desires ad and tips for a flat belly…

    Epic Fail.

    Is it likely that Ning would remove ads for my group if I contacted them and told them it was for a school?

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