For those of you who have never seen Weebly, it's worth checking out. It's the simplest, most straightforward online website creation tool I've ever seen. You simply drag and drop from a toolbar of elements, customize the elements, and you have a free website. It can include blogs, multimedia, your own HTML, and more.
"But I already know how to make a website," you say. And that's probably true. It's also quite likely that the teachers you support don't. Which is why Weebly's launch of education-centric tools is significant. This isn't for schools and universities who are already using a content management system or have integrated student web features with their student information systems. Weebly's new features are for the teachers and staff who want to get content online quickly and have their classes join them in a safe environment.
I had the opportunity to speak yesterday with David Rusenko, CEO and founder of Weebly about the new products, the teacher version of which can be accessed at http://education.weebly.com/. As he pointed out, Weebly provides a very simple framework in which students can access and create content without providing any personal information. They simply enter the information provided by their teacher and they can create their own sites as well as interact with class information.
Rusenko envisions this as a way for students to create online portfolios as well as making it incredibly simple for teachers to share a variety of content without any technical know-how.
Weebly Education certainly works as billed. Teachers can create up to 4 classes (without upgrading to a Weebly Pro account) with as many as 40 students in each. The students can be loaded en masse from a spreadsheet or text file. One weakness here is the inability of a student to be in multiple classes and have the same login. Student logins in Weebly specifically identify a student object within a class. While this makes the system incredibly simple with no need for central management of the various classes created by teachers in a school, it could mean that kids have several logins if a number of their teachers decide to use Weebly.
Weebly isn't meant to be all things to all people, though. What it does provide is a way for even the most technophobic of teachers to make course work, notes, assignments, announcements, etc., available to their students online. It also allows young students, most of whom will only have a single class anyway, to begin generating their own content in a protected, parent-friendly environment.