Ed Tech #3: Nearpod

What is it?

Nearpod is a tool that lets teachers create and share interactive lessons. These lessons can be live or student-paced. Teachers can sign up for a free account, or there are paid accounts / site licenses available, too. You can search for, modify, and use already-created Nearpod lessons, or create your own. To make your own, you can upload Google Slides, PowerPoints, PDFs, or Sway. In the free account, you can add in interactive quizzes, open-ended questions, and polls to these slides. To get more of the advanced features (like the student-paced mode, “virtual field trips,” fill-in-the-blank questions, etc.), you have to upgrade to a paid plan.

How does it work?

In the live lesson option, teachers give students a code. Then, students open the Nearpod app or website (the app/website is compatible on iOS, Android, etc). When students type in that code, it syncs their device to the teacher’s presentation. In other words, if the teacher flips to the next slide, the presentation on the student’s device goes to the next slide, too. You can have assessment activities (multiple choice questions, polls, etc.) built in to the presentation, so teachers get feedback on student comprehension as they progress through their lesson. In student-paced lessons, students still get the code, but can advance through the presentations on their own and teachers get the assessment data after the student completes the lesson.

This is what the teacher dashboard looks like:Screen shot of the teacher dashboard in Nearpod

 

You can see the roster in the bottom left, the code (for students to join the presentation) in the top left, and then in the top right, the +Add Activity button. You can use that button to insert an assessment into the presentation.

Strengths, Applications, and Limitations

One drawback to Nearpod is that it is primarily geared to K-12. I know some college faculty would be turned off by the cutesy graphics, and even though it let me select “higher ed” to search for already-created Nearpod lessons, all the ones it found are labeled (and clearly intended for) grades 9-12. I think Nearpod could be very useful in higher ed applications, and so I would like to see it expand its target audience.

If you’re using Nearpod in an in-person class for a live lesson, I imagine one of the biggest concerns will be keeping students on task. As you can see in the screenshot above, the teacher view will show which of your students are logged in. If a student opens another app, the Nearpod app will close and the teacher will see that student is no longer logged in. (This Nearpod article explains it). I think that accountability feature could come in handy!

Lastly, I do think it would be nice if the student-paced option was available in the free account, since a student-paced lesson would work best for an online course. This is especially true because (according to this Nearpod article) you can add audio to a slide. I think this could make a particularly engaging online lesson video. Essentially, students could progress through a video presentation of PowerPoint slides, but have built-in breaks throughout the lesson for assessment questions or other forms of engagement.

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10 Comments

  1. This would be a great tool for independent work. I could imagine giving students directions for a project or something to work through that they could accomplish at their own pace. I do agree that trying to monitor students during whole class instruction would be difficult, but I like that you can see who is logged in and that it kicks them out if they open a new tab! I might have to try this with a final project— thanks for the info!

  2. A presenter at our last teach PD used Nearpod to present information about Canvas. I like how the slides on my device followed the same slides that was on the board. I also like that all the answers we posted were visible to everyone, I remember really thinking about my answers before I posted! Great research, I am interested in using Neared in my own class!

  3. This sounds perfect for personalized learning. Teachers can record their presentations for students to use at their own speed. Thanks for an awesome resource, I want to try it out.

    Have you found it very time consuming to make these lessons? Does the effort you put in match the reward?

    1. I’m the oddball out in this course in that I’m actually not a classroom teacher – I’m an instructional designer at a college, so I won’t get to personally try out Nearpod.. knowing how much work it is to create an online learning module, though, I can’t imagine that making a Nearpod lesson for that kind of context would be that much more difficult!

  4. I remember discovering Nearpod when it first came out. I tried to get the other teachers excited about it but they thought it was to much work. I think it is a great use of technology. I taught a lesson about the water cycle using a nearpod presentation. The students loved how they could see the lesson on the smartboard or on their tablets.

    I know you mentioned about wishing colleges would use Nearpod more. I took a class last semester that was apart of a district in-service. The instructor broke the course up into four separate modules. The only thing that bothered me was if I was working on writing a response to an open-ended question and I wanted to go back to review previous slides; I would lose my work. Other than that I found it more enjoyable than traditional methods of delivery.

  5. This might be a great tool for college. I will need to explore it further. Like everyone, setting aside time to learn about tools like this is the most difficult part or using it. Thanks.

  6. This reminds me of Google classroom – I am off on that? I liked the accountability too – that part would totally hook me. One of the biggest problems I have is students having another window open behind the one they are supposed to be working on. I haven’t set up any monitoring on my computer because usually I am walking around helping each student individually or up at the board giving directions and clarifications. At my old schools we had a monitoring system – but I had to beat my computer to see if someone was on a different site. How do you think it compares with Google classroom?
    Tracy

    1. I haven’t personally used Google classroom, but I think they have a little different purposes. I (think) Google classroom is more like a repository for class information – so an online “classroom.” Think of nearpod as more of a PowerPoint presentation that you can sync up to students’ individual devices. Hope that helps! 🙂

  7. This sounds amazing! I love that if I move to the next slide, it moves the students too. I do teach a lot of our reading using Google Slides, however, I have 32 fourth graders and many times they I have many students who have to move closer to the board because they can’t see the projection from the back of the room. This would fix that issue! Thanks!

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