What is Nearpod?
Nearpod is an interactive presentation tool that allows students to respond to questions and complete other activities throughout a presentation. You can use these activities as quick formative assessments and give immediate feedback to students based on their responses. Here are the options for interactive activities:
This blog post gives a great overview of each of the interactive activities.
In Curtis B’s post on Explain Everything, he suggested using Commonsense Media EdTech Reviews when checking out new #edtech tools. Their reviews provide pros, cons, teaching ideas, an overall rating, and ratings for more specific categories (engagement, pedagogy, support). Here is a link to Commonsense Media’s review of Nearpod if you are interested.
Options for Starting Points
You can start by doing any of the following:
- Pick a presentation from the NearPod library. You can filter the library by subject area, grade level, and type of content (lesson, activity, or video). I noticed there were lots of pre-made lessons for Black History Month.
- Create a new presentation from scratch using Nearpod content. At first, I didn’t think I would start from scratch in Nearpod because it seemed too time-consuming.. but I have since had a change of heart. Read on to find out why!
- Upload your own slideshow using PowerPoint or Google Slides and add the interactive features. This is how I decided to play around in Nearpod. Check out my 5-minute walkthrough video below!
Creating a Presentation from Scratch in Nearpod
If you choose to create your own multi-media presentation directly in Nearpod, here are the content options:
At first, I thought I would stick with uploading PowerPoints I had already created and adding interactive features; starting from scratch seemed too daunting. My change of heart happened yesterday as I was planning a lesson for a virtual class visit. The lesson included a class discussion, listening to an audio clip, reading part of a PDF together, watching and discussing a short video, looking at a web page briefly, and then having students fill out an exit slip.
As I was thinking about all the tabs I would need to have open, I realized I could put everything into Nearpod and I wouldn’t have to worry about all the switching! I actually loved being able to input all these different types of content into a presentation so it would run smoothly and I wouldn’t forget about anything. I also embedded some of the interactive activities, including the collaborate board and several open-ended questions. You can check out the collaborate board from the lesson by clicking here!
Strengths of Nearpod
- Encourages students to actively participate and share their ideas during a lesson
- Beneficial for students who prefer not to speak up during class discussions but are okay with sharing responses using technology (provides a safer environment for some students)
- Allows you to see responses from all students rather than calling on two or three students to share; this gives you a chance to address common themes or questions that emerge
- You can add lots of different types of content (video, audio, PDF, slides, web page, 3D image, and even VR Field Trips) together into one presentation
- You can use it with the whole class or have students work through the content at their own pace
- The collaborate board allows students to add text and images, as well as read and “like” each other’s responses as they appear
- It provides a quick way to get feedback on student learning and see if reteaching or clarification is needed
- You can trim videos and only use the most relevant segments (similar to EdPuzzle)
- You can insert open-ended or multiple-choice questions that pop up during videos and have students submit a response (also similar to EdPuzzle)
- There are some built-in accessibility features, such as audio responses and Microsoft Immersive Reader
- You can upload slideshows you have already created and videos from YouTube
- You can choose to show or hide student names
- It is a free tool
Weakness of Nearpod
- The library contains U.S.-based lesson content
- It can be time-consuming to create and modify presentations
- It is most effective if students have access to 1-to-1 devices
- It might get repetitive for students after the novelty wears off
- The collaborate board doesn’t seem as flexible as Padlet in terms of set-up options or putting multiple questions on the board
- It could become just a fancier way of doing full class discussion
- It could over-emphasize individual student responses rather than small group discussions, depending on how you use it
- As Tessa pointed out in her Review of Nearpod, many of the activities are test-driven (quizzes, multiple-choice, etc.) instead of focused on reflection on learning or creative demonstration of learning
Like any #edtech tool, I think Nearpod can be used well or it can be used poorly. I will keep experimenting with Nearpod and aim to use it with purpose in ways that align with my pedagogical beliefs. I think it has the potential to be a great tool for enhancing collaboration and discussion, giving students choice in how they share their ideas, checking for understanding, and combining/organizing lesson materials.
I will leave you will this important reminder: