If you are looking to create a classroom website with a free website builder, take a look at Weebly. It’s ad-free, full of customization options, and has a dedicated education arm at Weebly for Education. Its easy to use drop and drop interface is ideal for busy teachers, and you can even create student accounts that you moderate from a central dashboard.
I first used Weebly for Education several years ago when I was still teaching 4th grade. I had a classroom website with Weebly and several student websites, but it didn’t quite have everything that I wanted. I soon became immersed in Google Apps, so I switched a lot of my web building efforts towards Google Sites. However, at a recent workshop, led by Ramsey Musallam, I had the chance to take another look at Weebly, and I liked what I saw! It is a great option for teachers who want their own classroom website.
There are over 70 great looking themes to choose from, each of which can be customized to your liking. You can add photo galleries of student work, slideshows, YouTube videos, Google Maps, or anything else with an embed code via the custom HTML element. Your website is free of advertising, and you can choose between a Weebly URL (yoursite.weebly.com) or a custom domain (mrwylie.com) which you can buy from Weebly or someone like GoDaddy, and add it to your site for free.
Best of all, the education arm of Weebly has some exclusive features just for teachers. For instance, you can add an assignment form to your site that allows students the ability to upload their assignments and submit them to you via your website. You also have the option to create student accounts so that your students can create their own Weebly websites. Teachers get 40 free student websites with the Weebly for Education account. These websites can be public or private, you can moderated comments submitted to student websites, and choose whether you want to enable or disable a Flickr search for images.
All of the above features are free, but if you decide to upgrade to the Pro account ($39.99 a year) you can get an additional 10 student sites, unlimited pages, a 250Mb file upload allowance, a custom audio and HTML5 video player, as well as the ability to embed documents you upload to the site. You can also password protect pages, remove Weebly branding and and get access to premium support. If you just need the extra student accounts, they can be bought in blocks of 10 for $10.
Weebly for Education also has a great referral program. If you click one of the sign up links in this post and publish your own site, Weebly will credit your account, (and mine), with $10 that you can use towards the pro account. So, if you try it, and you like it, share your experiences with others to earn more credit for an upgrade.
Of course, Weebly is just one of the many website builder options out there for teachers looking to create a classroom website. There are other free options like Wix, Google Sites, WordPress, Kidblog, Yola and more. My advice would be to find the one that works best for you. For a lot of teachers that I have been working with recently, that has been Weebly, so give it a go if you haven’t played with it for a while. The latest improvements are there for all to see, and it remains as easy as ever to quickly build a free, high quality website you can be proud of.