The popular “free” educational blogging site Edublogs has begun inserting inline content link ads in the posts of their free blogs. Once users are logged in, they no longer appear, but anyone view the blog sees the ads.
To disable the ads, one must become an Edublogs supporter costing $25 per year. There are other benefits such as more server space and Twitter integration. Alternatively, schools can set up Campus subscriptions starting at $900 per year for 100 blogs.
On the popular Classroom 2.0 site, teachers are registering shock and dismay at this unannounced development, saying that they feel “bamboozled.” Concern has been expressed about control over the content of these ads. Teachers and students have invested much into this blog platform and suddenly find the landscape has changed.
In fairness to Edublogs, the potential for advertising has been in their terms of service for some time–I looked into it many months ago. (You DO read the TOS before clicking I accept, don’t you?). In this tightening economy, the flow of easy captial has been shut off. The free hosted social applications need to pay their bills to keep their servers up and running and to pay staff.
I have always expressed concern about hosted Web 2.0 solutions for these very reasons. There is also the issue of data ownership. If one of these companies goes belly up overnight as has been the case with so many major corporations of late, what happens to your data?
The solution is free and open source software on either rented web server space, or on in-house servers. No, these are not “free” solutions, but they are inexpensive. Webhosting accounts can be had for as little as $5 a month and most offer ample resources for hosting your own Web 2.0 solutions. Furthermore, you will not find yourself blindsided by changes in policies and terms.
There are many options for software. Multiple blogs can be hosted on WordPressMU, Social Networks on Elgg, and the list goes on.
Stay tuned for more such developments and start studying up on free and open source Web 2.0 applications. As has been said so many times before: there is no such thing as a free lunch!
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