Classroom Resource: Versal

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www.versal.com

Facebook has copped a lot of flack lately, about privacy intrusions and whatnot. I have to say though, data collection for the purpose of personalised advertisement isn’t all doom and gloom! While scrolling through my newsfeed, I see an advertisement, clearly targeted at me based on my recent search history or internet viewing or however they collect their data! The advertisement was for a website Versal, and was marketed as a website that transforms the way students experience content. The screenshot showed two students excitedly sitting at a computer viewing a video.

It looked interesting! And I’m in the market for 100 ICT applications, so of course I clicked the link.

First impressions were … impressive! The basic package is free, which is always a great start. Teachers can create public courses and students can use Versal for free anonymously on the basic package; the Pro package allows you to create private courses and has a learner tracking feature for $50/year.

Registration was easy, and once you enter a few details it takes you straight to a blank course, ready for you to create you lessons. I really like it. It seems a lot like a WebQuest, but with more in-built functions.

On the left hand side appears your course same, and then the lesson are listed underneath. It is relatively user-friendly, you just grab a gadget and put it where you want it, then add the content.

There are gadgets that you can add to your lessons are across the bottom of the page, and there are HEAPS! 37 to be exact. A lot of the specialised gadgets – like the 3D-anatomy visualiser, the math expression creator, and the music notation function – are probably (… ok, definitely) more suited to secondary school contexts (along with a few other gadgets that I have NO IDEA about!), however there are plenty of gadgets available that are perfect for primary settings. For example, you can embed Educreations videos, Prezi presentations, Quizlets, or Sketchfab models, as well as create slideshows and timelines.

The lesson can also be collaborative: by embedding an document from Google Docs that can be commented on or edited, students are able to type their ideas and thoughts in to create a shared working document. There’s also the option to just allow viewing with no comments or edits onto the document. I assume the Microsoft One Drive widget allows the same feature, but I don’t use One Drive for document storage so I’m not sure.

Assessment gadgets are pretty straightforward: quizzes, surveys, and short-answer questions. Not very creative, but this application is more about presenting rather than creating.

This website seems like a really fantastic way to present the content and create interactive lessons. Stay tuned – I’m currently creating a short course for my Year 2 students to help teach them time.

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