Review by Jason Shiroff, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2014

Verso

Flip the classroom, gather student feedback with easy-to-use tool

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
5-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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Pros: It's a simple way to empower students while also encouraging elevated online discourse.

Cons: Discussions are limited; features to help students and teachers take discussions beyond the forum would empower them even further.

Bottom Line: Promote better discourse, participation, and accountability -- across devices -- with this thoughtfully designed platform.

Use Verso as a conversation starter: a place to kick-start discussion that out-loud discussions might otherwise belabor. By removing names from public posts, you'll empower students to speak up about important issues and take positive risks, pushing discourse forward. Consider this type of online discussion as a way to preview course material, build background knowledge around a new topic, or simply to generate excitement about a topic. Of course, you'll also be able to gauge your students' understanding before diving into the material in the classroom.

There are lots of ways to use Verso: you can assign a flip for homework, do a flip during class as a way of discussing a controversial issue, or use a flip as an exit ticket. You'll be able to view the engagement data to analyze patterns in participation and encourage more thoughtful discourse. As you're bound to generate lots of interest in a variety of topics, be sure to capitalize on students' engagement. Help your students transfer the contents of their discussions into other academic assignments, like graded Socratic seminars, formal essays, or even research projects.

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Verso is a tool to help teachers encourage participation in online discussions. Using the platform, teachers can create "flips," which are essentially online discussion topics, as well as track their students' discussion contributions. A flip starts with content pulled from anywhere on the Web, including websites, YouTube videos, or even docs from Google Drive. Teachers then add discussion questions before assigning the flip to their students.

Using just about any device, students can see their assigned flips on a dashboard, view the linked content, and respond to the teacher's prompt. They're required to post an original response before reading any of their peers' answers. Verso displays all responses anonymously, with students' names removed. Students then read and reply to the anonymous responses of their classmates; they can also flag these as inappropriate or helpful. These ratings are compiled into engagement reports, which provide participation feedback to both teachers and students. In addition to Web content, teachers can also record original videos using the tablet app.

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Making responses anonymous (to their peers) empowers students to share their thinking more freely. It also levels the playing field when it comes to peer critique. By removing the "who" from the conversation, Verso allows students to focus on content. The flagging features are simple to use, and provide both teachers and learners with an authentic way to assess participation.

Of course, any online discussion will only be as rich as the questions asked. Verso is committed to helping teachers raise the bar on discourse. From the website, teachers can find many examples of quality flips, as well as questioning strategies that can drive higher-order thinking and learning. The combination of strategic questioning, quality content, and open dialogue to promote deeper learning can be powerful. Overall, Verso focuses on doing discussions and doing them well. However, expanded features could help students transfer the content of their discussions into other academic assignments, beyond online discussion.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Writing for an authentic audience is bound to engage students. What's more, everyone can have a safe space to voice their thoughts, opinions, and questions. The site offers a seamless, simple user experience across devices.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Anonymous comments create a safe space for online discussions -- students can take positive risks and expand their thinking. Rating and flagging content builds engagement and helps students and teachers track participation.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Short help videos, user guides, and sample flips get users going quickly. Expanded features, like actionable ways for students to expand their discussion contributions into more formal assignments, could help take learning even further.


Common Sense Reviewer
Jason Shiroff Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Dana O. , Other
Other
North Allegheny School District
Pittsburgh, PA
Nice tool for hearing from all of your students

I really like that Verso is seamless. The students can view your video, website, or document right where they are posting. The look is user-friendly for students and you. The fact that students won't see who they are replying to, helps them to interact with students they typically wouldn't, building up that sense of community in the classroom.

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