Wetpaint.com ends free ad-free wikis for education program

It was fun while it lasted but as of August 11th Wetpaint.com will no longer be offering a free upgrade to ad-free status for educators. The news is as much a shock to me as it is to many of you. I was notified by the Director of Publishing at Wetpaint on August 4th about the change. Since that time I’ve been communicating with Wetpaint about this decision and my future role as Educational Ambassador with them. Below is part of the e-mail I sent to them. I thank you for extending the offer to allow me to stay on as“Educational Ambassador” for educators. It means a lot to me that youvalue my contributions to the Wetpaint team. I have appreciated theopportunity to collaborate and provide educators and students with sucha great wiki platform. However, with the suspension of the ad-freeprogram indefinitely, I feel I can no longer be an advocate for usingWetpaint as the premier educational wiki platform. I know thateducators who have already set up sites will continue to enjoy usingthem with students, a large part of my role was helping those new tothe platform get their feet under them and answer questions as theymove forward. It’s hard for me to “sell” a program that will now cost ateacher $19.95/month for ad-removal (especially for US schools that anyadvertisements at all on a site is a deal breaker) when there are otherfree programs out there for educators to use with students. Althoughthey might not be as good as Wetpaint, they are still free. I’m alsowell known for being a proponent of open source software and forfinding the least expensive (free!) way to utilize technology ineducation. So to that end I will no longer be the Educational Ambassador for Wetpaint at the end of August. When I approached Wetpaint about the idea back in November of 2007, it was commissioned as a trial project. Now nearly two years later, the educational wikis on Wetpaint number around 160,000 sites with some 600,000 users. I can’t image what the financial cost is of running and supporting that many sites, and in these hard financial times. projects that cost money without making money of any sort are the first to go. Wetpaint will still support the some 160,000 educational sites on it’s system and will allow those to run ad-free if they applied before August 11th for the Ad-Free status. As sad...

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Conversations with Wetpaint

(Full Disclosure: I am the Educational Ambassador for Wetpaint.com) Last Friday I was invited by Wetpaint to stop by their Seattle office for a “show and tell” session as well as discuss how the educational site was running and the needs of educators who use Wetpaint. The Show and Tell was fun as each department showed off what they were working on. We got a tour of the new home page that launched that day by the development team. The publishing team invited me up to talk about the use of Wetpaint in education. The Wetpaint team was very enthusiastic to hear how their product is being used in education. They asked questions about how educators use the site and how it could be improved for educational use. It was a great hour that I got to sit and watch as the wetpaint team came together in a relaxed “show and tell” atmosphere to share what they had been working on and where they were headed. I also was able to meet the CEO Ben Elowitz who thanked me numerous times for my work in supporting educators on Wetpaint. The most meaningful part of my visit came with a 30 minute sit down session with key people at Wetpaint discussing the COPPA issue. COPPA has been a pain in Wetpaint’s side since it was passed in 1998. We disucssed COPPA and ways that we might be able to allow students under the age of 13 to sign up for accounts. What is really frustrating to me as an International educators, is that the COPPA law does not apply to my school in Thailand yet our students can not take advantage of this great learning platform due to a US Federal Law. Because Wetpaint is located in the US (Seattle) they must comply with the law. It’s not Wetpaint’s fault, it is just the way it is in this digital age. It will be interesting to see if over time countries that have more relaxed rules get more technology start-ups. As I sat discussing the issue with Wetpaint employees it was easy to see that it is not Wetpaint the company that is making things difficult but rather lawyers who get paid to keep Wetpaint safe, and the law itself. It was a great brainstorm session and I walked away with a deeper understanding of where Wetpaint is in trying...

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Year 1 in Bangkok and ISB: A reflection

Well, the last day of the 08-09 school year is here. A half day for both students and staff before we all fly out to either summer vacation spots or our home countries for the summer. Living and working overseas is funny that way. You wonder why prices on airline tickets go up until you are trying to buy a seat on a plane the day after an international school gets out and there aren’t any….on three different airlines. 🙂 Looking back over my first year at ISB, it has been a learning experience. I’ll admit that the transition from Shanghai to Bangkok wasn’t as smooths as I thought it would be. When we first went overseas to Saudi Arabia we expected everything to be 180 degrees different then what we knew. We didn’t know what to expect and of course your mind wonders to the worst of it. So when we arrived in Saudi and found that really….things weren’t that backwards, it made the transition to a new country much easier. Then came Shanghai were again, not knowing much about China, and having seen CNN and the reports of what it was like, kept our expectations in check. Never did we think that we would live in a beautiful 31st floor apartment over looking the city. Also, the transition was made easier because our good friends from Saudi, Andy and Amanda, were headed to the same school as we were. We had a built in support system, friends to help you work through the transition to both a new city and a new school. Bangkok has been a different and difficult transition. Seriously I think it’s a study into human nature. 🙂 Before moving here to live, we had visited Bangkok no less than three times. Thailand is the vacation hub of Asia and of educational conferences in the Asia region. So between attending conferences in Bangkok and vacationing on the islands of Thailand you get swept up in this tropical paradise….which Thailand is….if you are vacationing. There is a difference though between vacationing in a place and actually living in a place. Your day to day life, as much as you wish it was a vacation, isn’t. Where do you get this, how do you get that, where do you go for this, that, and the other thing. We all have this dream moving to Thailand that...

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2nd Annual Wetpaint Golden Paint Can Awards!

(Full Disclosure: I am the Educational Ambassador for Wetpaint.com) Wetpaint has just launched their 2nd Annual Golden Paint Can Awards. Head over to the Golden Paint Can site and nominate for your favorite Wetpaint Educational Wiki. Last years winner Welker’s Winkinomics has continued to produce high quality student content this year. Who deserves the Golden Paint Can in...

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Wetpaint Wikis add some great features!

(Full Disclosure: I am the Educational Ambassador to Wetpaint.com) Over the past couple of weeks, Wetpaint has rolled out some features that for me are just more reasons to use Wetpaint.com. Some of these features are just wiki madness! You can now choose different “Layout Zones” for each page of your wiki, there are “Content Modules” that allow you to embed some cool wiki widgets in your site and a whole new way to apply for Education Ad-Free status right from within your wiki. Let’s look at each of these new features and how they might apply to your site and the educational environment. Layout Zones The new layout zones are a great way to split any given wiki page into a two column layout. I used this feature for the first time on a wiki I built for a conference. What I really love is that only when you edit do you know you have two columns. When someone is looking at your site they would never know. Secondly the feature is on individual pages so you have the flexibility to choose different formats for each page of your wiki. This new layout feature opens the door to new ways of displaying data, quick notes to your class, or the use of the new Content Modules to show what’s happening on your site and make your page more dynamic. I have no insider knowledge on what Wetpaint is planning or working on, but I hope they expand on this idea and allow other types of page layouts. Content Modules I’m most excited about the new content modules that Wetpaint has added. When I first noticed the new features a couple of weeks ago I wasn’t sure how they would be used for education. But as I played with them, the two modules that I could see having the most impact are the Top Contributors and Hot Discussions Modules. Top ContributorsThis module has a rotating wheel of who the top contributors are on a wiki. If you have a class wiki it’s a great way to highlight those students who contribute the most to it. Some students love to see their face or avatar on the home page as being a top contributor and I could see this module being used to motivate some students Hot DiscussionsA great way to show off where the conversations are taking place on...

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