How to Archive a Ning Site

Yesterday, I went through the steps to downloading and archiving a Ning site. It’s a networking site that I have used with a handful of people on our Western Massachusetts Writing Project Technology Team and, while it has been useful, it is not worth paying for. But I didn’t want to lose everything. So I decided to try out the new Ning Archive tool. And I took some screenshots along the way.

First, you will need to have Adobe Air installed on your computer. It’s a quick process and Air is used by other programs, so you might as well have it on your machine. Platforms like Tweetdeck work off Air, by the way.

Ning Archive 1

Second, you need to go into a site you created (the archive tool only works for site creators, I think) and go into your administrator tab. Down at the bottom of the page, you should see an icon for “Archive Content.” This is what you want. Click on it.

Ning Archive 2

Third, the site will give you the option of downloading Adobe Air and then launch the Ning Archiver. The archiver will ask you for the URL of your Ning site, your email and your password. This will verify that you are the owner of the site.

Ning Archive 3

Fourth, the application will ask you where you want to create a folder with all of the files.

Ning Archive 4

Fifth, you go through a series of options on what you want to download, including member information (only the most previous 400 folks, apparently); media files;  events; discussions; groups and more. The downloading was quick for my site, but then again, it did not have a lot on there to deal with.

Ning Archive 5

The folder now on your computer has all of the files from your site.

Ning Archive 6

The archive is stores as a .json file, which I had no clue about. So of course, I googled it. A JSON file is “is a lightweight data-interchange format. It is easy for humans to read and write. It is easy for machines to parse and generate.” I hope that means it is easy to upload into another network, if I choose.

I’m hoping my process helps you, if you decide to archive and move your Ning network somewhere else. Even if you don’t move it now, you may want to save the content for another time.

Peace (in the transfer),
PS — These are the screenshots as a slideshow, if that helps:

Ning, Pearson and Who Own Our Content

It’s July and for many of us who have Ning sites, that means changes are soon to be afoot. I have a handful of sites that I have created in Ning for various elements of my writing, technology exploration and more. Most of those I am going to let vanish into the ether (really, though, do things really vanish anymore? Some echoes will remain in the far corners of the Net). These sites are too small to deal with, although I hate to see them go.

Ning now has a three-tiered pricing plan and for most of the sites that I manage (most for the National Writing Project), the middle tier makes the most sense, but I am still not completely clear on how the change will impact the way the site has run in the past. Can I still embed videos hosted elsewhere, for example?

When Ning announced it plan to move away from the ad-driven model to a pricing plan, there was an uproar of concern from educators who were using the platform for work with students (only 13 and older are allowed by Ning) and other educators. We liked “free” and wanted it to remain “free,” although free meant ads on our sites (which I paid to remove, whenever possible). Ning listened and promised that a company would be providing free “Ning Mini” plans for educators. Many of wondered who that would be.

It’s Pearson, and that has given rise to some mixed emotion in me. I won’t be using Pearson’s sponsorship program. I have done some work for the National Writing Project and Pearson (see my resource around using claymation in the classroom at a Pearson “Profiles in Practice” site). It was fine and I have no complaints. I did opt out of a video interview by Pearson once because I worried about how I was giving them something for free that they could use to gain revenue.

Apparently, you have to be an educator in North America to get Pearson sponsorship, and you have to brand your Ning with Pearson logo, and you have to create a “Pearson member profile” in the network, too. The sponsorship lasts for three years, too.

So, here is my question: Who will own the “content” on the site that is being funded by Pearson? Is it you, the owner (and students, if it is a class site), or is it Pearson, the sponsor? Or is it Ning that owns the content?

This is a crucial questi0n in this day and age of managing information on digital platforms. And the issue is not addressed in any of the Ning announcements, as far as I can tell.  I would worry that Pearson, while seeming generous, is gaining access to a vast data set of what teachers are doing, what students are doing, and then leveraging that access down the road. Pearson’s business is built on educational trends, remember.

On the Ning FAQ site, they pose the question of whether Pearson can contact your members directly through your site. The answer (which sounds good) is:

Pearson will not contact members without the Network Creator’s consent. Pearson may contact you, the Network Creator, directly from time to time, but these communications will not extend to your members unless you agree to do so.

Am I being too skeptical of Pearson and Ning? No. These are questions we have to ask before we put our work in the hands of a company who makes their money in our educational circles. Ask the questions and get the answers before you let Pearson into your site.

Peace (in the questions),

Ning Things: when free is not always free

As a technology explorer (I have a badge! naw), I run a few Ning social netw0rk sites. I have a few within the National Writing Project, I have a few within the Western Massachusetts Writing Project, and one for the techies at my school. I’ve liked Ning networks because they are easy to set up and are pretty simple for even beginners to wrap their head around (although the difference between a blog post and a forum post can be tricky).  Like many, I got my Ning start over at Classroom 2.0 and used it as a model for my own Ning sites.

And I have liked that Ning networks are free. But of course, they are not free and never have been. Ning has always run advertising on the free sites. Now, I never see the ads because I use an ad-blocker. For a few of the Ning sites I manage, we have paid to remove advertising for periods of time because of worries about ads. (I remember reading an article about how we should all remove our ad-blocking programs so that companies like Ning can make their money. But I can’t make that shift, even though I realize I want it both ways — a service that I value that someone else pays for.)

Yesterday, I caught a press release from Ning that says they are about to move towards the removal of all free sites in its network and push folks to either upgrade to a premium version or tell them to move their virtual homes elsewhere. This comes because the Ning company is losing money. Lots of money. It is laying off staff. And it is a company after all.

Here are  a few items of interest:

So, what does this mean for folks like me? Not sure yet. One of the complaints within the NWP Tech Liaison community about the Ning sites is that there is no easy way to migrate your data away from Ning and into another platform. For example, if I am tired of Edublogs, I can migrate my blog somewhere else. It’s a few steps and I get a file of my data. I find a new host and upload my data and keep going (with some tweaks, of course). There is no system in place in a Ning (yet?) to do that, other than copying and pasting things, and can you imagine the hassle of that?

So, I’ll be waiting to hear what kind of premium options they are talking about. We do fund a few sites without advertising, so maybe those ones will make the cut. But I don’t see the value of upgrading for a site that only has a handful of people. (The cost to remove ads is $25 a month).

Peace (in the network),

My Own Ning Networks

I was bookmarking another Ning site the other day when I realized the exponential growth of my own Ning sites. The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Here is where I go :

That’s a lot of Ning-ing, even for me, but it is an interesting journey and the sense of community that I gain from each of these is very strong. There are deep discussions and sharing of ideas and, best of all, a very supportive and inviting environment.

Peace (in networks),


Social Networks in Education

Steve Hartegan, of Classroom 2,0, is at it again, compiling resources on how Ning and other social networks are being used in education. Here are some sample links from his new wiki site called Social Networks in Education:

  • Classroom 2.0 – Web 2.0 in the Classroom
  • College 2.0 – Higher Education, Online Education and Web 2.0
  • Coming of Age – The Book on Web 2.0 in the Classroom
  • EduBloggerWorld – International Edubloggers
  • ILTCE – Illinois Technology Conference for Educators – Learning Without Boundaries 2008
  • International Classroom – Social network created for classes around the world. Space where pupils can share, talk about themselves ,show pictures and videos etc,and get to know each other’s culture.
  • International Collaboration – High school and university students worldwide collaborate and learn about each others’ cultures and life styles
  • The Global Education Collaborative – Promoting Global Awareness
  • Learning 2.0 – Creating Collaborative Learning
  • LITE – Leading Innovative Technology use in Education – Glenview School District 34
  • Next Generation Teachers – Improving Teaching and Learning with New Technologies
  • ProjectsByJen – PreK – 6th Grade Teacher Collaboration
  • Online Projects 4 Teachers – Linking Teachers Together
  • School 2.0 – The Changing of Education
  • We Are Teachers IMAGINE Network– Online Knowledge Marketplace
  • WEBTAS (Web Teaching and Academic Support Learning Community)
  • Laptop Learning Community – Preparing Students with 21st Century Skills
  • WorkForce Educators – Distance Learning and Teaching
  • – A network of teachers using technology
  • – Network of NanoScience
  • Fireside Learning (ning) – “Conversations about learning. Sit by the fireside and share your thoughts.”
  • RBG Worldwide 1 Nation (ning) Afrikan Centered Cultural Development and Education
  • PSUCast PowerSchool users network.
  • SIGTE 2008 Book Discussion; Steering committee currently discussing book choices. Using NING as communication tool.
  • World Englishes Project– Blended Learning Course about World Englishes in collaboration with Waseda University, Japan.
  • Alabama Educator’s Network– For teachers living in Alabama (Please join if you live in AL.)
  • MACUL Space – Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning. Educators Pre-K to 20.
  • Smallsteps – a class based network set up to support 14yr old design students with a design and make project centred around the topic of waste reduction.
  • Schoolwork Together – Space for teens from Israel and Dutch school to meet and discuss ideas for a common project
  • Gifted Education Ning space for parents and teachers started by Ginger Lewman to discuss gifted issues
  • Fielfindr A portal to connect classrooms to the world: Global citizens can share talents and skills with students.
  • – Teaching and Education in Asia: Communities of Hope – Asian Educators discover and discuss common and unique challenges and experiences in Asian teaching contexts.
  • Comenius Programme Network A network for teachers accross Europe to seek support, share ideas and experiences to help ensure successful Projects

Steve invites people to add their own links to the wiki, so if you are using social networks for education, go ahead and add the resource (I know I have at least one I have to put on the list under Professional Development)

Peace (in networks),