School’s back in session, and Weebly, a startup that makes it super easy to build websites using a drag-and-drop interface, is looking to capitalize on it. Today Weebly is launching a new product geared directly at educators and their students, allowing schoolchildren who may not familiar with the basics of HTML or CSS to craft their own multimedia online blogs and reports with a minimal amount of effort.
The new product is similar to the normal Weebly editor, but with a few key differences. For one, Weebly has stripped out all of its monetization and retail features that wouldn’t be applicable to students. And more importantly, the site is letting teachers manage the accounts of all of their students. Because schools obviously wouldn’t want some of this content to be avilable to the public, teachers can elect to keep their entire class’s accounts set to Private, which means only the student and their teacher can see it.
There are countless potential uses for this, but the obvious ones are for personal blogs and for reports (you can see an example of what a Weebly report might look like here). Teachers can also create their own publicly available class websites, allowing students to easily upload assignments and giving parents a place to look to see what their children are up to at school.
At this point most of these features are pretty basic, but I see quite a bit of potential here. Imagine letting teachers build out individual student profile pages, where students would be greeted with photos, their recent grades, and maybe a personal note from their teacher (I imagine that would be more popular with younger kids). There are obviously some education products already out there, like Blackboard, but most of these are pretty spartan and data driven — Weebly would give teachers a new degree of customization and it’s more user friendly to boot. That said, schools are notoriously political, so Weebly may have some trouble getting its foot in the door.
Weebly is offering the product for free for teachers with up to 40 students, and then $1 per additional student account, purchased in packs of 10. Teachers can also sign up for Weebly Pro for $40/year, and all of the pro features extend to their students. There’s also a discount for teachers who refer each other.
As part of today’s news, Weebly has also announced that it has partnered with National History Day, a program held in schools across the country where over 500,000 students create a research project describing or reenacting a historical event. One option students have is to build a web site for their project, and this year Weebly will be the only officially sanctioned way to do that.