Course Creation – Online with Versal

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A short decade ago Moodle and Blackboard were the only real options for providing online training or education. Today there is a growing number of course authoring platforms to choose from. Over the past few weeks I’ve been exploring several of these new options and want to share my experiences with them, beginning with Versal.

Interactive learning

Versal markets their course authoring platform as “interactive” as opposed to more passive learning experiences. How they achieve interactivity is through the use of “gadgets”. In addition to the usual fare of embedded graphics and videos, Versal offers course designers over a dozen embeddable objects (aka gadgets), aimed at getting learners to do things within the course.  The gadgets include things like 3D model simulations and quizzes. The real joy in these is that the gadgets simply drag and drop into the course authoring area. No coding, no juggling multiple windows, just drag, drop and configure right in line.

Collaborate on course authoring

In addition to gadgets the other thing I appreciate about this platform is that it’s collaborative by design. Course creators can invite other people to co-create with them and there is even an easy to use discussion area attached to each section of the course. This works very much like the comments option in Google docs.

Versal collaboration option

Sharing your course

To share a course with learners there are a few options. You can share via link or, if you choose to use Versal as a “organization”, you can embed the full course into your own website.

Versal is in beta as of this writing, but even in beta I haven’t found many bugs and other than a full fledged documentation section, it’s works very well.

There are a number of courses that you can take to see the platform in action and if you are a JavaScript developer the gadget platform/APIs will be opening up soon. That means that even more gadgets will be available for course authors.



This looks like a great option for organizations who need to be able to develop online training quickly. The learning curve is so small that almost anyone could create a course. You would still want to follow sound learning theory and ensure courses are well organized and learner friendly but this kind of tool would allow you to focus on that, and not so much on the technology behind it. As for affordability – there is a free version for individuals and a version for organizations that begins at 5.00 per month for up to 50 learners. Versal also offers a free 60 day trial.

If you try Versal out let me know what you think or better yet let the folks at Versal know. They are on Twitter @versal. If you have suggestions for other online platforms, drop me a note so I can check them out too.

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Publish your own Daily Paper with

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A few days ago I got a request for more information about The Chilliwack Daily, a self publishing, online paper that I created with a free content aggregator/curator called If you’re interested in more background here is a bit of history.

I’m not sure how many people actually read The Chilliwack Daily or any of the other’s I have set up. I originally created the Chilliwack Daily for myself. I have it set up to search for and add Tweets about Chilliwack so that I can read it and see the news that I may have missed during a day. It never fails to offer up news and posts I have missed.

Who should use is a great tool for small businesses and not-for-profit associations. Once you set it up, it publishes itself so no one has to put any extra time or effort into it. It a simple way to get your name and interests out there. I have a few’s including one set up for Thoughtstream on Stakeholder Engagement that just publishes Tweets, YouTube videos and blog posts that have to do with stakeholder or community engagement. I also have the Jamie Billingham Daily (it’s embedded in the sidebar on this blog) that focuses on leadership, learning and technology.

To see how easy it is to set up a check out this great how-to video by Ian Cleary from Razor Social. quick tips

If you decide to set up one or more’s think about these things in advance.

1. What will you name your Think of something short and descriptive. Have a couple of options on hand.

2. What sources will you include?

3. Where will you publish to? Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin? All three or just one or two? This is how the posts look.

Facebook and LinkedIn option on


Chilliwack Daily Tweet

4. What time of day will you publish? You can publish weekly or daily or even twice daily and you can specify the time of day? When are your people on Twitter?

5. What do you NOT want published in your Paper/li? One of the things the video doesn’t touch on it that you can filter out content that you absolutely don’t want included. filters is a tactic not a strategy

If your goal is to get better known in your geographic community or within your community of interest there are a few really simple things you can do and might be a tool that can help you. Before jumping into, or other tools for that matter, it’s a good idea to have a full plan in place.

Here are two resources that can help with that – Social Media for Non-Profits – First Steps  and Creating a Marketing Communication Plan.

Want more great ideas about marketing your small business or non-profit association? Get in touch today!


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