TILTReview of Nearpod #SoftwareReview #edtech #teaching

Nearpod presents from your mobile device to your students’ devices

Free yourself from the shackles of the lectern. Integrate distracting mobile devices into your lesson plan. Take your teaching content and deliver it anywhere. Transform large-audience lectures into two-way debates. Sounds impossible doesn’t it? Or perhaps it sounds possible but with a huge time investment, but it’s totally possible and it couldn’t be simpler with the use of Nearpod!

Here are the bullet points for busy people:

Pros:

  • A very functional free account is available, so go to nearpod.com and get one!
  • Your existing PowerPoints/PDFs  can be imported, saving you tons of time
  • Open ended questions, multiple-choice, voting etc are added to your session
  • You can present from the PC or from your own mobile device
  • Answers you like can be shared with the whole group
  • When you start a session, students connect using any device via the web or the app
  • Handles embedded content extremely well, video, audio etc.
  • See who has ‘dropped out’ of the session (e.q. who’s messing around in other apps)
  • Pro version is inexpensive

Cons:

  • To be this good it needs to be online, so no offline mode is available
  • Some great features and the reporting options are kept behind the pay-wall
  • Pre-made material favours American educational terminology for grading/levels

Now on to the review proper:

Practical Applications – Teaching

Sitting by a buffet lunch in Muirhead tower yesterday, TILT and a friendly academic were discussing the nearby teaching spaces. A modern classroom was described: multiple LCD screens along the walls and seating arranged in carousels, the room quirky in it’s long, narrow nature. The academic liked the room, yet felt it frustrating, to interact with those at the back meant abandoning control over the learning content displayed on the big screens – essentially he was trudging backwards and forwards every two minutes to advance the slides. So what could he do about this?

What Should he Do?

A number of things, of course, he could use a ‘clicker’, or a wireless keyboard, but we would recommend that the friendly academic import his PowerPoint slides into Nearpod and really allow himself the freedom to use the modern teaching space properly, position himself anywhere in that room he feels necessary. Essentially, Nearpod (and we’re sure other similar apps are available) becomes a classroom management tool, not just a flashy educational technology ‘thing’. Furthermore, what’s to stop him from taking the students out of the classroom and delivering the whole session somewhere else? As long as there’s Wifi or mobile data he’ll be fine!

Teacher’s view of a completed multiple choice question – live results displayed on your tablet or phone

Big Numbers

In  a previous life, one of the TILT team used Nearpod to deliver a series of online safety sessions to 16-18 year olds, a tough crowd for this subject, yet the use of Nearpod transformed the session into something fun and interactive. Student feedback was unanimously positive. Nearpod licenses near the higher end allow for connected students in the hundreds. So wouldn’t it be a great session if you delivered your lecture via Nearpod? The students who couldn’t physically be there could still join in and the ones in the lecture theatre would be able to respond to your questions and answers, some meaningful discussion could take place and the shy students could be enthused to join in.

Presentations

We’ve all seen presentations that invite us to tweet our comments, yet few of us do. By adding Nearpod content to your presentation your interactive ‘segments’ become a  part of their design,  a part of the flow and you’ll see participation with these increase over text-wall or Twitter style interactions.

Design and Ease of Use

You sign in to a clean and mostly minimalist interface on the website (a unique username or password or via Google), then begin making slides in a new lesson, you can have up to a generous 20GB of content in each lesson using the free account and for the first month you’ll have access to all of the extra features like adding in gap-fill exercises. Adding content is easy, literally drag and drop files into the window, PPTs and PDFs will be converted, separated and added automatically and images and sounds will import without any problem too. Once you feel you’re ready you can preview the file, and if you’re totally happy with it you publish it and begin a live session. Students join the session via the Nearpod app or via the nearpod.com and can either get to your live sesison via a generated link or a 5 digit code. It’s clearly been designed to be extremely simple and quick as there’s no need for students to even have an account.

Conclusion

Nearpod is an easy to use learning technology tool that can liberate you from your lectern or even your classroom, with reliable functionality for importing existing resources and lots of options for expanding this content with questions, polls and further interactive activities you can transform your sessions with minimal effort. There’s enough scope in its simplicity though to allow for some truly creative uses and putting in a little more time and effort could result in truly creative and inspiring teaching.

TILT Rating for Nearpod - 9 out of 10

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