Want to truly flip your classroom? Try VERSAL: an Interactive Course Creator
By Stephanie Rivera and Breanna Johnson, Santa Barbara High School
SAMR Model Rating: you can reach the coveted “R” level with this program (redefinition!!)
Grade level: any lesson can be VERSALed!
Subject area: any teacher can use this web site.
Cost: FREE, for basic VERSAL.
VERSAL Pro – $5/month or $50/year if you want to track the progress of up to 200 individual learners, set courses to private or public, and invite learners and manage course access. A more rigorous service is available to districts (organizations) for $100/month, which can service 500-plus students.
I cannot begin to describe how amazing this open platform website is.
So, here are a few 1-3 minute videos that will give you a great idea of the potential of this fabulous open platform:
1. Click HERE for a 1 min explanation: “All About Versal”.
2. Click HERE for a 3 min “Welcome to Versal” flashy overview of the platform.
3. Click HERE to see the 2 min ” Versal Gadgets Tour”on YouTube, and then check out all of the available tutorials links that can show you the amazing capabilities of this program.
In order to view or create a VERSAL, you and your students must each create an account. It’s free and easy and fast – it takes maybe two minutes! You can use your email as your user name. You will be asked to create a passcode. (Click HERE to do it.)
After creating a VERSAL, I upload the link on EDU (NEO) and sometimes I will send a mass email with the link to my students.
On the website there are four main options, as you can see in the upper menu
The CREATE tab takes you to the lesson platform. There is a gadget menu at the bottom.
The LEARN tab contains a substantial library of lessons created by folks all around the world. So you don’t have to spend time creating one.
The DEVELOP tab is where you go if you want to design your own customized gadget.
UGRADE is where you spend money.
This program offers a myriad of cool “gadgets” to create and customize your lesson. You can make it as interactive as you want depending on the type of gadgets you choose to use.
Click here for a quick video tour of the basic gadgets. (Same as the above link #3.) Below I describe just some of them.
Text, image, and video gadgets are some functionalities that you would expect…..
Click this link to see how the TEXT gadget works.
The image and video gadgets are very similar to the “insert” options in Microsoft Word, Pages, GoogleDocs, etc.
There is a slide show gadget to create presentations.
With the whiteboard gadget you can make embedded KahnAcademy style videos (I used ShowMe to make mine, and embedded them using the video gadget or by creating a link.)
Click HERE to see a short video on the whiteboard gadget capabilities.
Make your own quiz with the quiz gadget, and give it custom parameters (such as the student must pass the quiz before being allowed to move on.)
See a video HERE on the quiz gadget.
An interesting option is the categories gadget. Click HERE to see more about it.
Or what about a short response assignment? Click HERE to check that out.
There is even a timeline gadget (click here). Genius!
Embed stuff you created in GoogleDocs, Prezi, Quizlet, and a myriad of online resources! Click HERE to see all the embedding possibilities.
I was most impressed with the “deeper diagram” gadget with which one can create interactive diagrams that allow the students to practice the concepts at hand and get immediate feedback.
See this tutorial (bio teachers out there: this one is for you!!)
Customize the platform with your own self-designed gadgets!!
As far as I am concerned, the piece de résistance of the program is capability for each and every individual to create their very own personalized and customized gadget specific to their needs! This however, is beyond the scope of this blog (read: I haven’t even tried to try this yet!)
But you can CLICK HERE to see the on-line workshop, “How to make a Gadget.” This if for you super advanced technophiles.
There are already user-generated gadgets that are extremely customized for a certain class or topic, such as the one that has a 3-D looking image of the earth that you can grab and rotate with the mouse, or the Snell’s Law simulation gadget specifically for Physics.
EXAMPLES of “homemade” gadgets:
HOW WE HAVE USED VERSAL IN THE CLASSROOM
Yup, you have to create an account first if you want to view any lessons or make your own. It’s easy. Click the links below and you will be led to the page to register, and then on to some of our Versal lessons.
1) Once you have registered, click here to see a short review lesson on atomic structure, created by Breanna Johnson for the CP Chem classes. This Versal took Bre about 45 minutes to create and includes links to a video and an interactive website, and a quiz. Students worked on this in teams during class, but were allowed to finish at home, which required only a phone that can connect to the internet (for those households that do not have a desktop or laptop.)
2) Click on this link to see a fairly extensive multi-day lesson that I used with my students this year to “flip” the class:
•This lesson includes three chapters containing text, images, interactive diagrams, quizzes, and videos uploaded from YouTube as well as my own videos created in the ShowMe app.
•The quizzes had to be passed with a 100% score in order for the student to move on the next chapter.
•I chose the option that would allow the students to take the quiz multiple times.
•Because I am not a VERSAL Pro member, I could not monitor their quizz scores/tries, nor could I see who logged onto the site.
However, to hold them accountable, I gave a quiz on the day following that was designed to reward the students who had thoroughly utilized the lesson to fill in their notes, seen images to illustrate the concepts, and who did their related homework assignment. I did tell them that there would be a quiz when I assigned the VERSAL as homework.
This longer lesson was designed to replace me when I was at a conference for a few days. The timing of my absence was not great, but this lesson allowed me to be absent and the students didn’t miss a beat.
Most of my students were comfortable with the long lesson, but a few didn’t take that well to this way of disseminating information and doing practice. They felt overwhelmed. So my next foray with VERSAL lessons will be some 10 minute experiences in class and then a few short homework lessons to prep the students before proceeding to flip the class entirely.
I must also tell you that the learning curve for using this program is pretty steep, but once you know what you are doing, things go pretty fast. Breanna’s shorter lesson took less than an hour to create. My longer lesson took me quite a few hours because I sussed out many “gadgets”, learned how to use the more sophisticated ones, and reworked or redid certain parts when I found something better.
There are other programs that allow you to build lessons, but none of them have the flexibility, creative options and possibilities that VERSAL offers.