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Pros: An introduction to web design, the site's many features give students opportunities to create some really compelling content.
Cons: The teacher dashboard is a bit outdated, and the main site focuses more on commercial rather than educational uses.
Bottom Line: Teacher-monitored sites and drag-and-drop elements make attractive website design safe and accessible for students.
Since teachers can only create up to 40 student accounts with the free version, it's unlikely that teachers will be able to monitor site creation and content for all of their students, especially at the secondary level. Therefore, it might be best to use Weebly on an individual basis or as a tool of choice for project-based learning. Maybe a student creates a blog based on a book or passion project. Perhaps another student creates an informative site about a historical or scientific concept. Or maybe kids work in groups to create collaborative presentations that include videos, slideshows, written content, and interactive elements on a shared class site. Any way they use it, well-organized instructions and an intuitive user interface will help students build their sites.
Teachers should be aware that Weebly has lots of templates and draggable elements geared toward commerce rather than education, and there are pros and cons to this. Positives include opportunities for relevant, real-life content creation and development of skills that may aid students in the future. In fact, students could create sites to "sell" invented products they create. Negatives include the fact that younger students may see some themes that aren't age-appropriate, and students may learn to view websites only as tools to market goods and ideas to make money rather than as a means to present meaningful, informative content. But teachers can show existing exemplar sites from students to emulate.
Weebly for Education is a platform that lets teachers build websites and manage up to 40 student sites for free, or more student sites with a paid subscription. When teachers sign up, they can add students to their dashboard, assigning logins and passwords that enable them to view student progress on the individual students' sites. Although the education interface is a bit outdated, the site builder itself has more style and is easy to use. Content elements are the building blocks of the website, and Weebly's drag-and-drop functionality lets users select themes, place photos, add text and other pages, and publish their site. Users can provide a URL or house their site on a weebly.com subdomain. Adults and kids can create personal websites devoted to any subject as well as for e-commerce to promote products and services.
Because teachers create classroom accounts and control access, Weebly for Education offers a safe learning environment. There could be privacy concerns if you opt to make students' sites public or encourage social sharing, but you can also choose to set privacy to classroom-only viewing when registering. You'll control the account through Weebly's teacher dashboard, where you can view recent student updates and disable sites if needed.
For personal or school-based sites, Weebly delivers a solid platform and a variety of features for little or no cost. Depending on their experience with web tools and coding, kids can design sites with basic elements or create elements and interactivity using HTML. Either way, the site's clear, straightforward functionality provides a basis for producing and sharing websites and lets kids express themselves in a fun, creative way. Plus, if students get confused at any point, a support center answers many common questions, and free tutorials are available to assist new users in learning the basics.
Weebly is a great platform for developing skills such as creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking, especially if sites include a blog or portfolio elements that highlight learning or that wrestle with concepts. With some sound instructional guidance about design thinking, visual elements, and engaging writing strategies, middle and high schools kids can design content that both challenges them as creators and presents valuable concepts to their audience. Because it's a tool and not an instructional platform, it doesn't offer a lot in terms of teacher support, extensions, or lesson plans. But in the right hands, it can be a solid learning tool.