San Francisco, Calif, November 12, 2013 — Today three innovative educators were named the first recipients of Versal Foundation grants, a program empowering anyone to create amazingly interactive, forever-free courses and help change the world.
The grants, totaling nearly $10,000, will support the development of the following courses: How to Create and Use Free, Clean Energy; Basic Biology for Everyone; and Empowering Underprivileged Girls in Academic and Career Development.
Grant recipients will develop courses and materials usingVersal’sopen course creation and publishing platform, today named a CES Innovations Design and Engineering Honoree by the Consumer Electronics Association in the “Tech for a Better World” and “Software and Mobile Apps” categories. Versal is unique because it’s a single course creation canvas with customizable elements called “learning gadgets” that bring a course to life and make learning more engaging and memorable.
“A learner-centered approach is missing from many educational resources,” Joshua Rosenberg, a doctoral student at Michigan State University who received a grant for his course titled Basic Biology for Everyone. “When teaching teens, for example, the challenge is identifying ways to take advantage of and engage students' interests. An interactive, online Versal course in science will inspire them roll up their sleeves. And we’re not just talking about teens in the developed world. Internet access is growing exponentially. We’re building a course that will always be free and available to anyone in the world.”
The courses created by the Versal Foundation grant recipients are meant to impart essential and inspirational knowledge to help people around the world. Grantees’ courses will be published via Versal’s hosted platform, which enables courses to be shared with anyone and embedded on virtually any website, and directly on Versal.com.
“The foundation grants and the CES recognition speak to our most fundamental mission as technologists: to create products and technologies that help people,” said Gregor Freund, Versal’s founder and CEO. “These first recipients are an incredibly deserving and inspirational group of teachers and thought leaders. The knowledge they’ll share through these courses is transformative, and their efforts will showcase the potential for online learning. And we’re just getting started. If you have an idea, we encourage you to apply.”
How to Create and Use Free, Clean Energy— Jianing Han, visiting assistant professor of physics at Hollins University, was awarded a Versal Foundation grant to create an interactive online course that will explain the physics principles of clean solar and wind energy, and provide a practical how-to guide for their simple capture, storage and use. It will demonstrate how communities can embrace free energy to heat water and even how to make a battery.
Basic Biology for Everyone— This highly interactive course will use images, video, quizzes, expressions, and references to engage middle school and high school students in a five-part basic biology course. The curriculum will focus on the subject’s key ideas and core disciplinary knowledge as identified by the Next Generation Science Standards. Joshua Rosenberg, Frank Jones, Southern Regional Director for Wikipedia’s education outreach program, and Aaron Rosenberg, dual masters student at the University of Connecticut, will develop the course.
Empowering Underprivileged Girls in Academic and Career Development— Lisa Tenorio, a tech industry veteran and educator, will create a course for middle school girls in underserved communities to explore and identify their academic career interests, with a particular focus on STEM careers. Featuring video interviews of a diverse array of inspiring women leaders created by local non-profit CareerGirls.org, this course will help girls learn about career options they may not have considered. The lessons will provide insight into other topics related to academic and career success, including what it means to be a leader, overcoming obstacles and the importance of lifelong learning. Lessons will draw on Common Core standards of literacy and critical thinking.
The Versal Foundation grantees announced today are just the beginning. Additional grants from $1,000 to $25,000 will continue to be awarded in two categories:
To apply, visit the Versal Foundation website at versal.org.
Versal is a single place to create interactive online courses – no coding required. Via a simple canvas, instructors may author anything from a quick tutorial to a semester-length course by dragging-and-dropping a variety of customizable learning apps, called “gadgets.” While basic gadgets include text, video, and images, the real interactive value of gadgets is found in customizable quizzes, charts, simulations, and more.
Versal will offer demos at CES in the Eureka Park NEXT section at the Venetian, and will also be available for private meetings. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information visit Versal.com, or Facebook or Twitter.