A student's Posterous "Collaborator" page
Two years ago I tried using Google Sites as a platform for my students' E-Portfolios. It made sense because each student had their own gmail account through the school, and this allowed a form of cohesion among the applications we were using and with the student body as a whole. It didn't make sense because Google Sites is clunky and horrid.
With a slow internet connection (and our school has a slow internet connection) Google Sites can be buggy, it's formatting tools sometimes don't work, and it's ready-to-use templates are some of the most unattractive templates on the internet. Add to that, last summer they stopped supporting "Code Wrapper," a nice widget where you could dump your embed code without worrying about traversing through the lines of html code that encapsulated your page, and I started looking for an alternative.
What turned me on to Posterous:
1) The biggest thing that drew me to this platform was that you can email your posts directly to your site. I thought this would be a great way to introduce updating the e-portfolios to the children. Many of my students coming in each year are kind of familiar with email, but not really. Being able to email content directly to their blog let them become familiar with two types of tech at once, without overburdening them.
2) The other thing that really drew me in was the design. Posterous looks beautiful. It's templates really give the pages a nice feel. Compared to Google Sites, there is no comparison.
A Google Site page example
I believe that style- the way a web page looks and feels- is a huge motivator to anyone, child and adult alike, to wanting to be on that page.
A Posterous page example
What turned me off to Posterous:
I still like Posterous, but this summer I'm going to look for something different. It just doesn't seem to be as well supported as it should. There weren't any visible updates this year, the Search widget embedded into each page seems to be broken, and it was time-consuming to set-up. So we'll see. I'll spend some time looking into Weebly and other website creation tools designed for classrooms. I'll also think about using Blogger.