There are so many educational apps for iPad out there, many are total rubbish, some fall into the category of “Cool, but not quite good enough to give me a tangible educational benefit”. A select few though are real bankers and very occasionally, an app comes along which enables me to change something for the better in my classroom. Verso is one such app. The central premise of Verso is that it will collect responses, or answers to a stimulus and allows other people in the group or class to see them anonymously, which takes the worry out of who is saying what. The teacher, or group creator can see individual names of respondents so can see who as or hasn’t responded.
Set up is very easy indeed. From a teacher’s point of view, you can sign in as a teacher, which allows you to admin your classes. We run Google Apps at our school and Verso have enabled you to use a Google Apps log in to sign into the apps which eliminates the need for another username or password for the students. If you don’t have a Google account, you can still create an account in the traditional way. The teacher can then set up their classes by giving them a name, year group and subject. You then get a class code, which you can send to your students which will import them into your class. Easy-peasy; no entering names or anything time consuming like that. I set mine up with one of my classes in about 5 minutes at the start of a lesson. Questions in Verso can consist of either a written questions, a YouTube video, a link or a Google Doc.
From a student’s perspective, they log on as a student, as described above, enter the class code and then automatically see any activities you assign to their class. It couldn’t be simpler really. They press on an activity and then leave their comment. They can see other class member’s comments and comment on them or give them a thumbs up Facebook style. Everything is anonymous in the student view so there should be no form of peer pressure with answers.
As a teacher, you can see the answers come in and you can comment on them or vote them up. The nice thing for me is that as I can see who has and hasn’t answered as it gives me an instant overview of who and who hasn’t done the work. The interface is very easy to use and has that thought behind the design that I really appreciate in apps. Once I get to my next lesson, I can display all of the comments on the board, again, anonymously, and we can kick off discussion about the question. I can also see this sort of app being amazingly useful with the new split screen feature in iOS9.
Any teacher will tell you their most important commodity is time. Too often, technology is seen as something that takes time and gives minimal reward. Happily, Verso joins the ranks of technology which can make a meaningful way to how your students think about your lesson, but in such an easy and time economical way it seems crazy not to use it. There other apps which do what Verso does, but I haven’t come across any as polished and efficient as this app.
Verso is free and here is a link to the App Store download. Students can also use a web based version at www.versoapp.com