I have noticed that Ning’s announcement has made some people angry which has caused others to temper concerns until more is known. No matter what the outcome, or the options within Ning’s new pricing plan, there is a more important issue here. I do not see a future where there are more free (of charge) services available. It is more likely, at least for the short term, that more Web 2.0 companies will focus on premium services. For the many teachers who have benefited from the wealth of free services available over the last few years, this ‘less free’ reality becomes difficult, especially when schools are increasingly budget-conscious.

This is why the F/OSS movement becomes important (again). With all of the free services that have been available, fewer educators have likely felt that the time and expertise needed to install, maintain and host open source software is worth the trouble. However, with this impending shift, I do believe that this is the time for schools & educators to (re)consider and (re)discover the importance of F/OSS and self-hosted software.

Great thoughts here from Dr. Couros, a leader in the F/OSS movement. I feel that while a majority of classroom teachers might not have “the time and expertise needed to install, maintain and host open source software,” it is imperative that districts begin to seriously consider these aspects as they craft technology plans for the future.

If a district can not support F/OSS on their own, then we will need to get creative and forge new relationships and collaborative processes between districts to support open source social networking, video hosting, blogging platforms, etc… Now is not a time to cry and curse Ning for doing what they need to do to keep their business open, rather, now is a time to become innovative and craft solutions to what is really an economic issue. Thanks for your great insight and for (re)focusing our attention on the importance of supporting the F/OSS movement at the school/district level, Alec!

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