Tag Archives: gabcast

No more Ning

No more Ning

Well that’s not factually correct, what the title should be is “No more free Ning”.

It would appear that Ning are phasing out the free service to allow them to focus on those customers who pay for the premium service.

So, we are going to change our strategy to devote 100% of our resources to building the winning product to capture this big opportunity.  We will phase out our free service.  Existing free networks will have the opportunity to either convert to paying for premium services, or transition off of Ning.  We will judge ourselves by our ability to enable and power Premium Ning Networks at huge scale.  And all of our product development capability will be devoted to making paying Network Creators extremely happy.

A mistake I think on Ning’s part.

Now I am not opposed to paying for premium services, if I like a free service and the Pro or premium version offers more and I perceive it as value for money I will pay.

On this blog for example I pay for the VideoPress and extra storage. I have a Flickr Pro account. I pay for the premium version of Remember the Milk. If I reached the limits I would probably pay for the premium version of Evernote.

If there are limitations on the free account or added features on the premium account then I will happily pay out money. It would appear that many others do the same.

However in all the examples I have given, as well as the paid Pro version there is also a free version. People will try out free services, if they like them and want the added functionality they will upgrade.

As Ning have decided to phase out the free version, I think this is where they are making a mistake. With no free version, you will find that key individuals won’t try the service and upgrade later… Well maybe Ning is already well known enough that this won’t be an issue. Hmmm I am not so sure. Anyone remember Gabcast? Originally a free service, went paid for only and now having checked recently it is hardly used compared to services such as Audioboo or iPadio.

Without a free version that can be upgraded I wonder if people will start using Ning or even continue using Ning if other services offer more for the same sort of cost.

So now I need to think about what to do about the Ning sites I have created. If there is a demand (and I can get funding) I may upgrade to the premium version, but I know this won’t be the case for all of the sites I have.

So what alternatives are there?

One that is been talked about on Twitter is Elgg.

Elgg is open source social networking software that provides individuals and organizations with the components needed to create an online social environment. It offers blogging, microblogging, file creation and sharing, networking, groups, news collection using feeds aggregation and a number of other features.

Wikipedia

Though of course though the software is free (open source) you will need a hosting service and the sort required for Elgg isn’t going to be free. If you are lucky your institution may have the capacity to host an Elgg service for you.

I have mentioned Crowdvine before on the blog, it was one of my top ten tools in 2008. I have used it at conferences like JISC and ALT-C.

As well as their premium services Crowdvine also have a free version.

CrowdVine builds simple and powerful social networks for events and groups to help people connect and meet. Use us for your conference, event, or organization.

Interesting though that JISC moved from Crowdvine to Ning for JISC 2010. Wonder what JISC will use for JISC 2011?

Another one that I have found, but not used is SocialGO.

SocialGO allows you to build a custom social network, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned developer.  No software, hosting or coding required, as our team offers full support for your social networking site.

As with Crowdvine there are cost plans and a free plan.

So Ning is no more, well the free Ning is no more.

Does it really matter that much?

I have  talked before about inappropriate advertising on services and why sometimes a paid for service may be better.

One of the issues with using any free Web 2.0 service is that they may not be here forever. Gabcast is no longer free, but Audioboo is. Jaiku is pretty much dead, but Twitter is alive and well. Etherpad has gone, but iEtherpad is up and running.

At the end of the day this is not about a service disappearing or now charging, it’s much more about how when using these services you don’t think about long term, but have the capability and the technical knowledge to move between different services as and when they become available.

Use what is now and in the future use what is then.

Phone into Audioboo

Last week I blogged about Audioboo a recording website.

Well it’s a service I first saw demonstrated at the All Together Now event at Channel 4. To put it simply it is an App (iTunes Store Link) on your iPhone that allows you to record an audio recording, add your location, a picture and upload the lot to a website.

I did mention in that post that there was a beta service which you could phone into using any phone (so you wouldn’t need an iPhone)

Well the Audioboo people are also looking at how they can make the service device agnostic and they have a prototype phone service now in beta. You can phone in your Audioboos via 0203 393 6430.

I did comment that

Now at this point in time you can not collate these phoned in recordings (as you can with Gabcast) but I am sure at some point that this will be possible…

Well less than a week later Audioboo have mentioned on Twitter

You can now link to your audioboo account from any phone. More detail tomorrow but the API seems to work.

Well tomorrow we will see how this enhancement will work.

This means that you will be able to phone into Audioboo and it will record you and convert it into an audio file with RSS.

A really good Gabcast replacement if you ask me. The fact that there is an iPhone app which allows you to add pictures and geo-data is just a bonus.

I forgot to mention that in my last blog post on Audioboo, is that with the iPhone App you can add a picture and geo-data to your audio recording which allows you to add not just a visual reference but the location data as well. This has some real  potential for learning activities.

audioboo1

Overall Audioboo is getting better and better, why not try it yourself.

Audioboo.fm

On this blog before I have mentioned the audio creation tool Gabcast before, however since they started to charge for their service, I know that a lot of people have been trying to find a free alternative. Now generally I don’t have a problem paying for software or services if they get the job done or make my life easier.

I have gone Pro with my Flickr account so that I can upload lots of photographs and not be limited to the 200 images of the free account. I have upgraded my Remember the Milk account so I can use it on my iPod touch (and now on my new iPhone). I have paid for the extra storage on this WordPress Blog so I can upload video and audio (which is well worth the $20 per year it costs). Though like others I like free software, when I need something for a particular job I don’t mind paying for good software. VisualHub made video conversion easier (now reborn as it happens as the free Video Monkey). When I needed good audio tools, I went with Wire Tap Anywhere and Wire Tap Studio which met my podcasting needs on the Mac. So I actually had no qualms about paying $10 for 100 minutes on Gabcast.

However I can’t expect everyone to do that, especially practitioners and teachers who may not want to spend lots of dollars money on minutes for Gabcast. It’s one thing for me to spend $10 for events and workshops, but if I used Gabcast for my weekly podcast I would be spending about $40 per month!

So what is this Audioboo.fm that is the title of this blog post then?

audioboo1

Well it’s a service I first saw demonstrated at the All Together Now event at Channel 4. To put it simply it is an App (iTunes Store Link) on your iPhone that allows you to record an audio recording, add your location, a picture and upload the lot to a website.

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As well as viewing the “boos” on the website they are also accessible via the Audioboo App.

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As you have an account on the website (not essential but recommended) your recordings are kept together and also have an RSS feed as well.

This is the test recording I made using the App on the iPhone.

Yes I can hear you saying that this is no Gabcast replacement, firstly you need an iPhone and most people won’t have one of those.

Well the Audioboo people are also looking at how they can make the service device agnostic and they have a prototype phone service now in beta. You can phone in your Audioboos via 0203 393 6430. This is a recording that I made using this number on my Nokia N73 (though of course you can use a BT line if you so wish).

Now at this point in time you can not collate these phoned in recordings (as you can with Gabcast) but I am sure at some point that this will be possible (either via your phone number or channel numbers and passwords). I suspect there may also be a web client as well which could be useful too.

So it is early days, but I think Audioboo has a lot of potential.

Transforming the World

A quarter of the world use the internet and half the world now has a mobile phone.

The Guardian has an interesting article on an UN report.

The speed and scale of the world’s love affair with mobile phones was revealed yesterday in a UN report that showed more than half the global population now pay to use one.

The survey, by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), an agency of the UN, also found that nearly a quarter of the world’s 6.7 billion people use the internet.

I assume that if you are reading this that you more than likely have access to the internet (unless some kind soul prints out my blog articles for you to read) and if you do have access to the internet then more than equally likely you have a mobile phone.

The world is changing and the world is changing fast.

Transforming the World

We can’t as a sector afford to stand still, nor is it merely a matter of moving from one state to another. Society and our learners are changing and we need to ensure that not only we keep up with the technological changes, but that we also support our learners to keep up too.

The problem with ILT and e-Learning is that it will never be a place we can get to, it is much more a moving target and we need to keep moving to keep up.

For example new services come and go.

I use to demonstrate Gabcast which was a fantastic free podcasting tool, now it is no longer free. Should you stop using it, well no, it might cost money, but it might be money well spent. College systems may need to change in order to make it simpler for them to pay for services such as Gabcast, but the issue is less money (colleges spend money on lots of things) and more about processes and procedures.

This doesn’t mean that you should never use Web 2.0 and other free services.At the end of the day, things change, things close down.

My view is that institutions and individuals need to be more flexible, responsive and robust in how they use services and resources so that when things do change, break, close, or whatever, it has a minimal impact on the end user, the learner.

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #012: It's Snow Joke

Recorded during the height of the snow at the beginning of February 2009 the panel discuss the role that learning technologies and communication tools can have in supporting colleges and schools that get closed because of the snow.

This is the twelfth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, It’s Snow Joke.

Audio MP3

Download the podcast in mp3 format: It’s Snow Joke

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

It's Snow Joke

James is joined by Di Dawson, Lisa Valentine, David Sugden, Dave Foord and is joined later by John Whalley.

Shownotes

  • The view from Di’s office.
  • Ping.fm which can be used to send the same message to various micro-blogging and picture services.
  • Spinvox a service which converts audio into text. Allows you to phone into your blog, convert voicemail to SMS, and much more.
  • Gabcast is a simple way to make podcasts, by just phoning in…
  • Dim Dim is a free to use online conference and presentation tool.
  • Elluminate another online presentation tool which was used at the recent LSIS eCPD Launch Conference.
  • Instant Presenter as used for the MoLeNET online conferences.
  • Oovoo which is an alternative to Skype and can be used for four way video conferencing.
  • Ustream is a online video broadcasting service.

John Whalley’s final comment, as I didn’t give him much notice on the podcast recording.

Thought on one thing to do if it snows – have a series of general podcasts prepared on a ‘non-mainstream’ area for your subject, distributed early in the course.  Ask learners to review if can’t get in to college.

Apologies for the poor sound quality at time on the recording, which we are putting down to the poor weather!