Sunday, June 3, 2012

Why Do All the Good, Free Tools End?

It seems as though another good Web 2.0 tool has bit the dust, metaphorically speaking of course.  CoveritLive has gone to a paid per click model.  Bummer, right?  If you are not familiar with this tool here is the basic description.

I was personally introduced to this tool back in the winter of 2009 during student teaching in CO.  Back then it was a bit underdeveloped, but the functionality was still flat out amazing.  The ability it had then (and still has today) is to create an interactive chat and embed it into your blog.  The educational application for me was to use this tool in class discussions.  In addition this tool had a moderation pane that allows the comments to be approved prior to them being posted.  This tool worked really well for classroom discussions, but it had a variety of other features that worked in an educational setting (quick forms, links, and stats).

Unfortunately, like many Web 2.0 tools, this has gone to a paid version.  It did have a paid option in the past, but for education it was strictly free.  For those that wanted to receive more options there were of course paid options.  However, now there is only one free option.  Here is their new language around the new cost options: "Our pricing is defined by the number of clicks - that is, people actually clicking into the live events on your website or mobile app - you accumulate over a billing period."  The number of clicks for a free account is 25 per month.  This is a bit of an impossible threshold for an average teacher.  When I am teaching a novel and want to have discussions about it using this tool I generally have two or three discussions a week and each of my 25 students is accessing and clicking on the CoverItLive link.  And I only teach one class!  Imagine if you taught five sections with an average number of students at 25 and had two discussions a week for four weeks.  That equals out to roughly 1,000 clicks per month.  Under the new pricing that teacher or school district would have to purchase the "Lite" account for $49 per month.  Granted I would still strongly make a case for purchasing this, but the frustration remains – it was free and now it is paid.  What's up with that?

Finally, in their nice email explaining all this to their customers they did state that for education or other non-profits to contact their Customer Support Representatives for other pricing options.  I, naturally, went ahead and contacted them earlier this week.  I have yet to hear back from them, but when I do, I will be sure to update this post.

Until then I will begin the conversation with my teachers and figure out who is using this tool and count the monthly number of "clicks" we might have.  Yet another good, free tool that has gone paid.  Bummer.

Have you used CoveritLive before?  Did you enjoy using it in your classroom or educational setting?  Why do all these free tools start to be paid?  Will you look into the paid version(s) of CoveritLive?