Ah the fickle world of web 2.0…
I found YackPack last year, used it with my class on our collaborative project with the fabulous Chrissy Hellyer, loved it, preached about it to the masses, and now that it’s somewhat popular, they have decided to charge for their services.
I guess I’ve gotten used to services that seem too good to be true (like VoiceThread, Skype, Wikispaces, edublogs, etc, etc) that I was actually surprised, shocked even, to see that YackPack is making their service fee-based. Maybe I’m naive, but if all of these other companies are able to offer their services for free, what’s the deal with YackPack? We can handle advertising if we must, but Wikispaces is ad-free for educators…. What’s the advertising on Skype? No ads on edublogs….
From my recent communication with BJ, a YackPack rep:
There are no free services like YackPack on the web because what we offer is expensive to provide. If we were part of a large company, like Google, we might be able to offer the service free.
If you can think of another solution, keeping in mind that for a company to survive their income must exceed expenses, then let me know. We’ve ruled out advertising. It’s annoying, and you have to have millions of users before it actually works. The other revenue option is subscriptions.
It looks like YackPack is going to be US$34/year for educators, which is not much, but even if my school is willing to pay (which I’m sure they would), if my collaborative partners can’t afford it, the application is essentially useless.
So, now I’m in the process of searching for alternatives. Chrissy pointed me to Chinswag, which looks a little more “wild” than YackPack (and therefore might not be appropriate for lower elementary – goodbye Global Communication Center idea), and offers “channels” instead of Packs, but it might work. Plus, you can even RSS the channels you’re participating in – now that’s cool!
Anyone know of any other way to allow asynchronous audio communication in a virtual “classroom” type setting (where you can have only the members of your specific classes in the group together)? Or, even better, does anyone have any brilliant ideas for YackPack to help them make the service free for educators?