Sunday, December 8, 2013

KidBlog is no longer completely free

Sad news for educators, using KidBlog. The education blog host, designed by teachers for teachers, is no longer completely free.

I recently noticed an "upgrade" button on my dashboard. I can't find any news of this change, and in August, Examiner.com reported that KidBlog was indeed still free. Unfortunately, now the "upgrade" button on the KidBlog site brings up the page below.


Last year, I had 120 users and unlimited teachers. My students could select their own themes, which was a critical part of creating the autonomy that kids love so much. Now, these are paid features.

I have touted KidBlog for many years in how-to videos at Learn it in 5. I promote KidBlog regularly at conferences and workshops.

KidBlog is still a wonderful product, but I'm deeply saddened that it has joined other sites and gone corporate.

Will you continue using a paid version of KidBlog?

Update 12/10/13
KidBlog co-founder and CEO, Matt Hardy, defends move to pay plan. Read my reaction here.
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12 comments:

  1. Here's the counterpoint, from the perspective of a vendor: you should be pleased that Kidblog is going to begin generating sufficient revenue to be able to continue to provide its service, instead of becoming yet another terrific service that had to close down. $60 per year is the cost of a single textbook, or a pizza party. That does not seem too much to pay for a safe, ad-free, feature-rich blogging platform.

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    1. You make a great point, Mark. I have advocated often for paid services that are useful. I pay nearly $200 yearly for my classroom website -- a truly amazing tool. I'm frustrated, though, that this happened so quietly. We had no warning and no justification from KidBlog. I wonder if they tried to find other funding. Wikipedia manages to stay free, and I'm sure it takes quite a bit more revenue to run the web's largest encyclopedia.

      Plus, I don't agree with how KidBlog managed the upgrades. I can see charging for more than 50 users, but taking away student control of themes on the free version is a very poor decision, in my opinion.

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    2. There's no excusing a lack of transparency. Wikipedia raises most of the money it needs from a public pledge campaign - about $6 million each year - it's fascinating to me that this keeps working for them.

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  2. I don't use Kid Blogs, I use ClassBlogMeister which is still free. I do appreciate these services but I really depend on free. After paying $29/yr for Glogster, and having the school pay $245/yr for 3D GameLab I just keep adding expenses. We as educators have to pick and choose which services we will provide our students.

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    1. I agree. It's tough, though, when you get comfortable with a platform and build it up year after year. Then, suddenly, it goes to a pay model. Do you move on to something else, sacrificing years of hard work?

      I've seen your blog. Do your students have blogs of their own, managed within your blog?

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  3. Mark,

    Thanks for taking the time to provide your thoughts on Kidblog's new plans and pricing tiers. Making these adjustments involved tough decision-making. Our core mission is to provide teachers with a safe platform for students to share their voice with an authentic audience. As a former elementary classroom teacher for ten years, I understand first-hand the out-of-pocket expenses put toward equipping a classroom learning environment. As I'm sure you can also understand, it costs a lot to provide a great free service like Kidblog. To ensure that we can continue to provide long term value for teachers and students, we rolled out premium features for those users who need extra resources. This will allow us to maintain a sustainable business that can grow and respond to our users' needs.

    Our free plan continues to offer many robust features for which Kidblog has become renowned. And we sincerely hope that teachers receive enough value from Kidblog to justify paying for upgraded features if students would benefit. We've had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the premium plans, which confirms that we are indeed providing true value to teachers in their daily work.

    As far as transparency, we've posted a page on our website - kidblog.org/pricing - which explains the new structure. We've also responded promptly and publicly to users' questions via Twitter as well as privately via our support ticket system.

    Users can contact us any time at support@kidblog.org with questions or comments.

    Matt Hardy
    Co-founder & CEO, Kidblog

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    1. Hey Matt,

      I appreciate this. As you likely know, I've been a longtime supporter of Kidblog. In fact, I'll be presenting it (still) next week at two workshops as one of my top 5 Must-Have Tech Tools.

      I'll expound on your response in a follow-up post later. Thanks again for responding.

      Delete
  4. I read the post this morning and have just now come to a point where I can leave a comment. As a teacher, I definitely understand the next-to-nothing budget from schools and that spending my own money with no chance of reimbursement was the only way to get things to happen sometime. Free is good, and that's what I looked for as often as I could.

    Now, as a member of a software company, I have a different perspective. I still understand that free is ideal in some cases, but that doesn't mean we should never have to pay for software. If it isn't paid for by the user, it's paid for by ads. So, in the education realm, this is often a catch 22. "Paid" is a four-letter word in education, unfortunately, and I've seen conference presenters lose audiences when they talking about pricing. I think we need to not worry so much about free tools going "corporate" and start talking about why we pay for the services we value.

    Just my two cents from both sides of the aisle.

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    1. Brian, I appreciate your thoughtful response. Believe me, I think Kidblog's first paid tier ($60 per year) is more than reasonable for this amazing product. I was unhappy about not being told to expect the change. Please read my followup post here on 12/10/13.

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  5. I know I am just basically reiterating what others have said however, as an educator who has zero budget and limited resources - a paid for site isn't going to be a viable option. It's really frustrating to have great products to use in class for the longest time and then have to start paying for "full" service. I simply won't use this website anymore and will be searching for an alternative. I get that it's all a business and you have staff to pay for but, there has to be an understanding that teachers can not be expected to pay for everything out of pocket.

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    1. But isn't that something that's a fault of the school system, not the companies trying to provide service?

      Think of it this way: there is a bakery on the corner of a town. Amazingly, this bakery provides all of their awesome pastries for free. For anyone. Unlimited pastries all for free...to you and me. In the back room, they're burning through cash to continue to buy supplies and pay people to make the food. Ultimately, they run out of money. What options do they have? Close or ask people to start paying. If the service is valued, the business will remain open.

      It's no different for software. There are some great companies that can build up some great service for free for a while, hopefully selling their value to the users in the meantime. Eventually, though, it's either make some money and keep running, or throw everyone under the bus. Which is the lesser evil here?

      Delete
    2. Hey Manda, thanks for responding. Believe me, at $5 monthly, Kidblog is arguably the best investment you'll ever make. Good luck.

      Delete

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