Versa is an intelligent learning platform meant to re-envision the textbook for high school students. The goal was to go beyond the 'e-textbook' and think about how the affordances of the iPad can create a more engaging learning platform for students.




Re-envision the textbook as an interactive learning experience for the iPad.


Exploring new directions for digital textbooks is crucial. All school systems across the U.S. are currently moving toward entirely digital content. The state legislature has mandated that all textbook content in the state of North Carolina be entirely digital by 2017. Four conditions are feeding this dramatic shift: the current low cost of computing, the advent of device agnostic software, curricular changes (Common Core), and funding already in place to cover materials.


We live in a participatory society. We need textbooks that build community, facilitate collaboration and co-creation, and customize to meet all users’ needs.




Aziz Johnson


As Aziz, I want to be able to move at my own pace so that I can quickly move through science and math subjects.

Jessica Williams


As Jessica, I want to be successful in my classes so that I can get into a good university.

Mr. Smith


As Mr. Smith, I want to use constant short assessments so that my students are always using the information being taught to them.



1. Ian Pearlswig — Athletic, Academic

Senior, Millbrook High School

Age: 17

Gender: Male

Interests: Soccer, business, politics

Learning challenges: He has trouble sitting down and focusing on a single assignment, is often distracted by other things such as his phone/computer.

Learning motivations: His main motivation is to get the best grades that he can. Now that he is a senior, college is at the forefront of his mind and the main drive for him is to do well in high school so he can have pick of where to attend college.

Dreams: His childhood dream was to be a professional soccer player, now that he is older he is more interested in business, particularly a business marketing consultant for a large corporation.

Devices in the classroom: Computers, iPads and their own personal devices such as laptops/smart phones.

Primary forms of communication: An app called Remind 101.

Preferred learning environment: He really enjoys when he gets to work with other people, in a group setting, where they are physically doing things (like getting up and moving around the classroom).

Describe a moment in the classroom in which you felt particularly good about learning: One moment would be lunch period before a math test where he wasn’t feeing confident on most of the concepts that were going to be on the test. So during lunch he went to the math class and worked with a group of people where they studied the concepts on test and did example problems. He ended up getting a 99 on the math test.

Describe a moment in the classroom when you felt particularly discouraged about learning: One time would be when he had failed a proofs quiz in his pre-calculus class. He had studied for the quiz, tried to improve the grade by re-taking the quiz, but still ended up doing worse than the first time.

Do you use textbooks in your classroom? For what purpose? They do use textbooks sometimes, but for the most part it is only when substitutes are teaching the class on a temporary basis.


2. Ashlynn Pozzi — Theatre, Studious

Freshman, Lecanto High School


Age: 14

Gender: Female

Interests: Reading, writing, video games, theatre, singing, animals , baking

Learning challenges: She struggles with focusing, especially when the topic is something that she is not interested in, such as science/math.

Learning motivations: When she is encouraged to do better, or told that she can do better. Also, when she is being guided in the right direction by her teachers or classmates.

Dreams: Her aspirations in life are to be an actress, singer or author.

Devices in the classroom: School issued iPads, textbooks, smart phones, dependent on the teacher/activity there are computers in the classroom.

Primary forms of communication: Texting, calling, email or messaging through social media.

Preferred learning environment: She prefers to be in a quiet space and alone. She does not work well in groups or a loud environment. She prefers to read and take notes, or do worksheets.

Describe a moment in the classroom in which you felt particularly good about learning: She feels good about learning when her grades are strong and is having fun with what she is learning.

Describe a moment in the classroom when you felt particularly discouraged about learning: She prefers to be in a quiet space and alone. She does not work well in groups or a loud environment. She prefers to read and take notes, or do worksheets.

Do you use textbooks in your classroom? For what purpose? She does not have textbooks in all classrooms, but most of them do use textbooks. The textbooks are used for reading, studying, class discussion and note taking.




Aziz Johnson — ESTP



Age: 15

Gender: Male

Interests: Soccer, runkeeper, fitbit, espn, sports data, social media

Learning challenges: Seeing relevance of what he’s learning, focusing on a single task, time management, impatient with other people who aren’t moving at the same pace as him.

Learning motivations: Social gain/interactions, friends, instant gratification, competition, success, to be correct.

Devices in the classroom: Not very much funding at the school, so not a lot of technology integrated into the classrooms. Students have to share the tablets that are available.

Primary forms of communication: Email (hard to communicate with teachers outside of school)

Preferred learning environment: Active, interactive, to work at his own pace (not waiting around for others to catch up), no tedious work, solving problems.

Family: Very focused on him doing well, pushes him even though he pushes back.

Do you use textbooks in your classroom? For what purpose? Still use textbooks primarily, trying to integrate some technology use.

“Unsure what I want to do with my life beyond high school, I have not thought about it.”






HabitSeed: is an app that helps users to change a habit that they have. You start off by picking a habit that you want to change and the app requires you to stick to it for 21 days. After those 21 days, if you have been successful in changing your habit, the new habit will grow into a tree, “a symbol of your strength.” The habit starts out as a seed at the beginning of the 21 days and grows throughout the process, step by step.

While I think there are some things that could be improved visually about the app, I like the concept of choosing something that you want to work on, for students it could be a particular subject or topic within a subject, and having a visual sign of your progress. A student wants to get better at identifying the planets, they could set the goal, give a time frame and then throughout that time frame as they practice more and more and get better and better, the “seed” grows and becomes a full tree at the end. Similarly, if the student does not improve or put in extra time on that topic, the seed will not grow and will slowly wither away. The concept of the student choosing a goal and then seeing a visual reminder of the goal, is an interesting concept.

Daily Budget: is a budgeting app for your money. It calculates daily spending allowances based upon your income, expenses, side goals, etc. When you spend less then your budget that day, the money gets moved to the next day’s budget. You can also set side goals for larger purchases that you want to make and add money to those. There is an immediate visual reward for saving money.

I like this app visually and simplicity. Teenagers want to see a direct reason or reward for the work that they are doing, trying to incorporate an immediate response to how a student is doing in a lesson or game would encourage them to continue and try harder. If they can see the rewards or progress build up as they continue to do well it’ll be a stronger indicator for them to continue. The concept of having a shared “budget” that not only you, but your friends are also responsible for maintaining would add a sense of community to the task. If students were placed in groups and had to maintain a certain aspect of the game or lesson as a team, this would help to build better collaborators and encourage less willing students to participate.



1. Attempting a task


2. Preparing for the assessment





My brand is:







My brand is not:








Iteration 1

Iteration 2

Iteration 3

Iteration 4