Kids these days. In my day, if you wanted to make a website, it meant playing around with HTML code and staring at a screen until your eyes bled. Oh, things got better; pretty soon we could play around in programs like Dreamweaver or FrontPage. Let me tell you, teaching kids to use FrontPage is about as fun as a root canal. Lots of hard work agonizing about the placement of tables and the resulting web pages still look like something produced around 1991.
How are students supposed to put their work on the web without the technological barriers that come with laying out a web page? How do we make this easier so we can skip the code and the tables and make web publishing more accessible?
Weebly is a great web hosting site, similar to offerings from WordPress, Tumblr or Blogger (none of which are really appropriate for school students), but focused more on the look and feel of an actual page than creating a running blog for advanced users. Weebly uses a drag and drop interface. Drag web items into the page and that is where they will be. No coding or tweaking needed. It is easy enough for a 3rd grader or a grandmother and that is exactly the point: to get people on the web and make web creation easy enough for anyone. Think of it as the internet from Playskool. I don’t mean to be demeaning; it’s just that easy to use!
This makes for a great project for students who want to report on something, allowing them to show the world what they have learned. It might not make the best whole-class activity since it does require an account and an email, so a permission slip from mom and dad will be necessary.
I also want to point out that there is more to Weebly than the fact that it’s a free, easy-to-use website service. Weebly has also jumped on the quickly-crowded, all-inclusive educational website bandwagon with a full-featured suite of education-only web services which include teacher websites, grad eBooks and other goodies. I will look in on that part of Weebly later. In the meantime it pays ot give the regular site a look if you don’t know the first thing about starting a website or know a student who could use one.