I’ve two stories to tell today: one about how i came to begin this blog and related one about how Edublogs failed CLRN review, leading me to look for another home for my ongoing conversations.
The Story of Professional Development in a Flat World
I celebrate two years of blogging next month and this is my 83rd post on Edublogs. While I have a personal blog on Blogger, I’ve reserved my Edublogs home for professional conversations. Two years ago, while still working for the California Technology Assistance Project, I began preparing for a three-day blog and wiki class for their summer technology festival. Researching blog platforms, I quickly found and fell in love with Edublogs, which offered free, and advertisement free blogs for educators. In addition, the company included a variety of themes and plug-ins. Now, Edublogs runs on the WordPress software, which is free, open-source software anyone can download and install on a server. So, after installing WordPress on the CTAP server, I spent a weekend searching for and installing a variety of themes and plug-ins for the CTAP blog platform. Still, I chose to continue adding posts to my Edublogs blog, a habit that will continue, although probably not on Edublogs.
Why Edublogs Failed CLRN Review & Why I’m looking for Another Platform
I understand that Web 2.0 companies need to make money and that educators can’t expect to get everything for free. However, my California-funded state project, the California Learning Resource Network (CLRN), only publishes information about free and advertisement-free web sites. Yes, we do review more than 350 commercial electronic learning resources each year, but our free Web Information Links (WILs) have grown more popular as schools tighten their budgets.
Last week, CLRN added two new categories to our WILs, Free Software/Web 2.0 Tools and Free Supplementary Course Materials. In building a base of sites to post to these categories, i returned to Edublogs to explore the features that i could include in our WILs review. To my great disappointment, I discovered that Edublogs is no longer a platform i can recommend. Last fall, to generate income, Edublogs created a new class of user, a Supporter, who pays a yearly fee to enjoy Edublog’s benefits. Those of us who aren’t supporters have seen our features disappear, much like the rights that disappeared in the middle of the night in Orwell’s Animal Farm. Gone are all my plug-ins, so good-bye to my Twitter link and my Google Analytics. So long personal avatar on the front page. Finally, we non-payers were reduced to 10MB of space, meaning that with the next few posts, I’ll run out of space to post.
What keeps Edublogs from CLRN isn’t the cripling lack of features, the poor visual editor (there are so many great ones they coul have added), or the severely limited space for blogs. The clencher was that non-supporter blogs now contain Google ads, placed before the blog entry’s title and the blog post. Because Google ads are context driven, CLRN does not approve any web sites that contain them.
In the meantime, I’ll be looking for a new home for Professional Development in a Flat World.