free web and group collaboration resources
The bottom line with free sites is that they are supported by advertising of some sort (with the exception of Google's Blogger). This may or may not be an issue for you.
Yahoo offers group sites that can be restricted to group members with the following features: a welcome page for information about the group, an email discussion list with an web archive, live chat, a directory for uploading files to share with group members, a photo gallery, member profiles, a links database and additional customizable databases, a calendar with notifications, the ability to poll group members, and tools to promote or invite members.
Pros - free; many integrated web tools that work well.
Cons - advertisements on the site pages and discussion list email; only the home page offers easily accessible web information; all group members need a Yahoo ID, which is fairly simple to get but sometimes challenging for web novices.
Recommendations - Works well for course web sites using the discussion list, chat area for online office hours or group collaboration, files area for assignments and other text-based documents with no need for HTML conversion, course calendar, and poll. Also works well as a site for a group of scholars who want more than an email discussion list.
free web sites with limited features
Google's Page Creator, as of this writing still in beta, is "a free tool that lets you create web pages right in your browser and publish them to the web with one click.... The pages you create are hosted on Google servers and are available at http://yourgmailusername.googlepages.com for the world to see."
If you have access to web space though your university, that is generally the best "free" web site that you will find. Actually developing the university site may prove more time consuming if templates are not available.
The following companies offer free basic web sites that can be upgraded to more full featured sites. They are supported by advertising on your web site. They generally
- provide templates to help you to create a site without knowing how to code HTML.
- often provide add-ons like a guest book, counter, etc.
- offer limited disk space on their server and bandwidth, and may limit file sizes