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.
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.
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.
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 Tweet so I can check them out too.