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weebly-education-logoThere are already lots of teachers using simple website builder Weebly to create class sites, says chief executive David Rusenko. But the San Francisco startup wants to expand its classroom presence with a new version called Weebly for Education.

The new product adds just a couple of features to make Weebly more student-friendly. The key, Rusenko says, is to make it easy for students to use Weebly without sacrificing their privacy.

Normally, you need an email address to get a Weebly account, but once a teacher signs up, they can get a username and password for everyone in their class without providing student info. Those students can all use the basic Weebly product, and teachers can either make their Weebly sites public, or only accessible to people in a particular class.

There’s also a new tool for teachers — an “assignment” element that can be added to class websites, allowing students to submit their work online.

Since it’s easy to create a decent-looking website in Weebly (you just drag-and-drop the different elements in), this should further encourage teachers to include websites are part of their curriculum, since there’s no real technical or design expertise needed. I definitely would have liked to have used Weebly in high school and college, rather than hand-coding my ugly websites (that were required for different classes) using HTML.

The pricing continues Weebly’s previous combination of free and pay products. In this case, teachers can get accounts for up to 40 students for free; after that Weebly charges $1 per student per year. They can also pay a small fee to upgrade to a Weebly Premium account, which removes the Weebly branding from the site and adds other features. (I am a Weebly Premium customer.)

Weebly is also getting a boost from a partnership with National History Day, a program that 500,000 students participate in by submitting essays, exhibits, documentaries, or websites. This year, students who submit a website must use Weebly, a move that’s supposed to level the playing field, so students are judged on their website content, not their design skills. (Sample website pictured below.)

Weebly passed the 2 million user mark earlier this year. It has raised $650,000 from Ron Conway and other angel investors, and was incubated by Y Combinator.


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