Versal Helps Teachers Create Interactive Online Lessons, Partners With Wolfram Alpha

Versal is a service that allows teachers to build and publish interactive online courses, homework assignments and tutorials. The company launched its service out of beta today, but maybe more importantly, it also announced a partnership with Wolfram Research.

Thanks to this deal with Wolfram Research — which includes Stephen Wolfram joining the Versal board of directors — Versal now allows teachers to embed content from Wolfram into their courses. Currently, this means teachers can use the Wolfram Language to create content. The company tells me that a deeper integration is planned for the future, which will include support for Wolfram Demonstrations, Wolfram|Alpha widgets and other Wolfram resources (if you hadn’t noticed, Stephen Wolfram likes to name products after himself).

header-art“With Versal and our new cloud-based capabilities there’s an amazing opportunity to bring a new level of interactivity and computational knowledge to a very wide range of educational settings,” Wolfram says in a canned statement today. “We’re excited to partner with Versal to make this happen.”

Versal, in many ways, is a reaction to the video-centric learning platforms. Instead, teachers can use the service’s drag-and-drop tool to create new lessons with interactive timelines, quizzes, writing prompts, maps, and diagrams, for example. What’s even more interesting, though, is that developers can write their own widgets, too (in JavaScript). Thanks to this, the service features a music notation widget with a working keyboard, for example. Teachers can write equations with LaTeX, or annotate a 3D skeleton for anatomy lessons.

With today’s release, Versal is bringing the total number of widgets to 48, but the service — surprise, surprise — also offers an online class that teaches you how to build your own gadget.

Teachers who need advanced features like progress tracking, private courses and the ability to invite students have to subscribe to the company’s $5/month Versal Pro plan.