By Gregor Freund, CEO

It’s been almost five years since we first launched Versal, and the vision then was the same as it is today: harness the power of emerging Web technologies to help people teach and learn online in new and interactive ways.

We’ve made a lot of strides in our quest to build a powerful online course creation and delivery platform. Yet through it all, I’ve always had one idea that remained elusive. I wanted people to use Versal for teaching computer programming.

Today I’m incredibly proud of our team as we take a major step forward in this important initiative: the first beta of Versal Code.

Versal Code is a powerful yet simple Integrated Development Environment (IDE) designed for CS educators and developers to teach Web technologies such as Javascript, React, HTML, and CSS.

It’s a flexible cloud-based IDE (no downloads or installation) made for eLearning. Whether you’re teaching computer programming courses in a traditional education environment, training a developer community on your latest APIs or products, or onboarding new engineers into a complex code base, Versal Code will be a powerful addition to your instructional toolkit.

Versal Code is delivered as a drag-and-drop gadget within the Versal course creator. This means authors will not only be able to create coding exercises within the IDE and allow learners to build their own apps, but complement projects with additional course content. Add markdown-style documentation, videos, discussion forums, and surveys, and even interactive assessments and quizzes to ensure a successful round-trip learning experience.

For this first beta, Versal Code has several unique features optimized for teaching and training:

  • Granular interface controls: Authors have full control of how much of the IDE is visible to learners. Individual files and complete components may be hidden or turned off to avoid the confusion of auxiliary items. Learners can focus on the purpose of an exercise. 
  • Full screen programming: While the IDE lives inside a course, full-screen mode and side-by-side programming make it simple for learners to become immersed in their programming, see their work as they progress, and better understand how their code affects the compiled output. 
  • Submissions: Project submissions offer learners the opportunity to share in-progress or completed code directly with an instructor. Instructors can view the submission, reply with corrections and suggestions, and directly message the learner with feedback from the gadget.
  • Custom apps: Authors can use the IDE to build custom apps directly in a course. Simply write an app and turn off learner editing and file toolbars – the app will run on demand. Create interactive exercises to teach complex topics, design interactive product tutorials for your company, or demo a new app with supporting content.

In these early days, Versal Code is limited to the Javascript programming language and related components (such as HTML and CSS), and has been tested with the React framework. Other frameworks such as jQuery and AngularJS may work, and will be officially supported in the next couple of months. We also plan to add additional programming languages such as TypeScript and CoffeeScript in the very near future.

The Versal Code beta is live today! Sign up and give it a spin. We’d love to know what you think…feel free to email me directly with any suggestions or bugs – gf@versal.com.