MET:Weebly as an Educational Tool
This page was authored by Heidi Corbett, March 9, 2014 (ETEC 510 - 65D), Stop Motion video added by Ryan Shields (ETECT 510 Section 65B Feb 2015).
Stop Motion Video added by Cristina Leo (ETEC 510-65C January 2017 Using Weebly as Digital Portfolios for Intermediate Students in Education
Weebly is a website creator that allows its users to design websites, blogs, and online stores without requiring HTML coding. Acclaimed for its ease of use, its drag and drop editor, and its many features, Weebly is recognized worldwide with more than 12 million registered users. Weebly is available in 11 languages and functions across the different platforms of computers, tablets, and phones. With free cloud hosting, options available for domain names, and customizable designs, Weebly is an attractive tool. For educators, Weebly and its services are available for free to design and integrate technology into their practice.
Three college students were responsible for the conception of Weebly. David Rusenko, Dan Veltri, and Chris Fanini desired a tool that could be used by others to create and store content online void of HTML coding. Beginning as a venture consumer service, it was privately funded. Its current investors include the following: Sequoia Capital, Baseline, Y Combinator, Ron Conway, Floodgate, Felicis, and Paul Buchheit. At present, Weebly is based in San Francisco. Working to be current and keep customer satisfaction, Weebly continues to update and implement new services. Below is a summary of some of its key accomplishments that are relevant to its educational use.
2007 - Y-Combinator provides support and seed funding. Weebly is officially released with its new “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” (WYSIWYG) editing interface.
2009 - Weebly offers educators a platform with features designed for technology integration in education.
2012 - Weebly makes it possible to create and edit content using an app for Apple’s
2013 - Android app is released for creating and editing content.
Educators and schools can sign up for an Education Free account, which gives them access to a variety of features. Each sign up allows an educator 10 sites with unlimited pages and individual file uploads of 10MB. They are also granted 40 student accounts. Students are allotted one site with a maximum of 5 pages and individual file uploads of 10MB. Students must be 13 years of age to use the account or teachers need to obtain parental consent. While a teacher’s site is public, student sites can be made either public or private (using one class password). Teachers are given administrative control over the student sites and can disable them at any time.
Students have access to the following features. They can use standard or blog pages in their site. On their pages they can add titles, text, images, maps, and import pictures as a gallery or slideshow. They can use buttons, dividers and columns to structure their pages. Students can also insert block quotes, embed codes, polls, social icons, and feed readers with the simple drag and drop editor. With control over the design and look of their site, students are empowered to create. They can choose and customize templates from a gallery, or upload a template of their own.
Teacher accounts include the features outlined above and more. Additionally, teachers can add a variety of forms to their pages including contact, assignment, RSVP, and survey forms. They can also embed or upload documents and make bookings. Similar to students, they can format standard or blog pages into their site. Another option offered to them is to add a forum to a standard page. Within this forum, students, parents, and others can comment using either their weebly account or an email address. A maximum of 5 forums are allowed with the Education Free account. Teachers have control to moderate discussions within their sites and those of their students. Teachers can also invite others to co-edit a site, thus enabling a collaborative creation.
While both students and teachers can link their weebly to external sites, they will need to upgrade to a Pro account if they would like to host their own audio or video files. A Pro account is required to access the following features: audio player, video player, file uploads of 250MB, unlimited pages for students, and password protection of teacher sites and pages. A 1-year subscription to a Pro Education account costs $39.95.
The SECTIONS model, a framework for selecting and applying technology, will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of Weebly as an educational tool.
S – Students:
- Weebly is a web platform that can be customized to suit the needs and learning styles of its target audience. If students are young learners, then a site can be designed with large font, colorful visuals, and only a few links. More complex sites can be used for older learners who need access to documents, external resources, and space to collaborate. Accessible on the computer, tablet, or phone, students can use Weebly at school, at home, or any other space where they have an internet connection. Content and discussions are password protected, helping to keep it a safe learning environment for students. Weebly would be best used as part of a blended learning environment where students are engaged and able to access learning resources on the site.
E – Ease of Use and Reliability:
- Weebly can be implemented into the classroom setting through a scaffold approach. Students can learn how to access content, as well as learn how to create and edit content. The interface is easy to navigate through the use of pages and buttons. The drag and drop editor makes it simple and quick to add or edit content. Participating in a blog or forum can be demonstrated in class. Weebly is supported by cloud hosting which is reliable and quickly loads content. Developers are continually fixing bugs, updating services and introducing new features.
C – Costs:
- Weebly is free for educators and students. If certain features are desired such as audio and video players, then an upgrade to a paid account may be needed. However, videos can be uploaded to YouTube and then displayed within the Education Free account. A cost to take into consideration is the amount of time needed by teachers to develop their sites. Initially, students may also take longer creating content and working on their site as they participate in this learning process.
T – Teaching and Learning:
- Weebly provides an online space to store grade level and course specific content. Teachers can create content within the site, link to external content online, and upload content in the form of various documents and presentation formats. Through the use of tools on the site or the blog, students can be involved in constructing and presenting content, and participating in discussions or giving feedback about their learning. The teacher must lead the scaffolding of skill instruction, while students are provided with a safe environment in which to practice and learn. Assessments are collected through learning samples on student sites and through the uploading of assignments to the teacher site.
I – Interactivity:
- Students can interact with the content, each other and the teacher in this online learning environment. Activities and assignments are purposefully planned to bring about this interaction. Pages, blogs, and forum are developed to promote engagement and inquiry. Links and discussion topics are present to encourage further exploration.
O – Organizational Issues:
- Training for teachers, students, and parents will be needed to learn the Weebly interface. Tutorials are available within Weebly as well as a help center where questions can be submitted through a form. Other discussion forums are also accessible online.
N – Novelty:
- Weebly has been recognized for its use in education environments and there are some site examples in the subsequent section.
S – Speed:
- Content can be created offline and uploaded easily to Weebly. It can be done as a work in progress, with teachers completing one unit at a time or adapting content to meet the needs of their students. More pages can be added as the need for content to be published arises. Creating, editing, or deleting content is reflected in the published or updated page immediately.
To summarize, Weebly is a free online learning tool that allows both teachers and students to construct and share content interactively. This is accomplished in a safe, collaborative learning environment that is scaffolded by the teacher. Weebly offers its users ownership and creativity over their designs. It supports its users with ease of use, reliability, and speed.
- Weebly provides an online learning environment where teachers, students, and parents can access content beyond the time and space of the classroom
- Students can collaborate to construct knowledge under the guidance and scaffolding of the teacher
- Multimedia tools offer teachers and students creativity and ownership of their design and presentations
- Blogs, forum, and forms enable communication between teachers, students and parents
- Blogs and forums allow for reflective practice and feedback to be shared among learners
- Password protection ensures a safe and secure learning environment
- Content or files to be uploaded may exceed 10MB limit. An upgrade to the Pro account may be necessary or the use of another site to host content
- Time will be needed to develop the site and to educate students and parents on how to access and make use of the site
- Students are limited to 5 pages, therefore confining them to a set workspace which is not ideal for an electronic portfolio
- While content may be exported from the site, the structure and organization may be lost
- If the design purpose is not clear, the site could be filled with content that is disorganized, not engaging, and ineffective for learning
Examples in Education
- Weebly. (2014). Weebly. Retrieved from www.weebly.com.
- Weebly. (2014). The weebly blog. Retrieved from www.blog.weebly.com.
- Wikipedia. (2014). Weebly. Retrieved March 9, 2014 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weebly.
- Moran, G. (2012, October 20). How to manage build and manage a website with your phone. Retrieved from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224435.
- Weebly. (2014). Weebly for education. Retrieved from http://education.weebly.com.
- Bates, A.W., & Poole, G. (2003). Effective teaching with technology in higher education: foundations for success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
- Johnston, M. (2012, July 6). Weebly review - the website builder that makes web design fun. CMS Critic. Retrieved from http://www.cmscritic.com/weebly-review/.
- IRA members embrace web 2.0 teaching tools. (2011). Reading Today, 28(6), 34-38. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/.
- Roe, M.J. (2011). Learning tools for innovation. Leadership, 40(4), 32-38. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ965944.pdf.
- Norman, A.D. (1999). Affordances, conventions, and design. Interactions, 6(3), 38-43. Retrieved from http://delivery.acm.org.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/.