How do you connect with your class?
Nearpod is an app that allows you to present information directly to your students’ smartphones, tablets, and computers. Sign up for free at the Nearpod website or download the app from the iTunes App Store, Google Play, or the Microsoft App Store. The site will then guide you through your very first Nearpod presentation in which it will show you how to use the app.
What’s the point?
Nearpod turns a lecture into an interactive learning experience. Students follow along with the lesson on their mobile device/computer instead of looking at a projection at the front of the room. Add quizzes, polls, drawing activities, etc. to make a class more interactive and see what your students are learning in real time. When the presentation has concluded, Nearpod allows you to look at and download the results of the activities as a report, so you can stay up to date with your classes’ progress. You can access presentations from anywhere as long as you have the PIN for the presentation and an internet connection.
Another feature of the app is Nearpod Homework. Nearpod Homework is a service that allows your students to view the presentations that you choose on their own time without you presenting. Because you can add quizzes and other activities to your Nearpod presentation, your students could use the Homework feature to refresh their memories before a test, view the presentation before the class (which might be a way to introduce/implement the Flipped Classroom), or allow students who missed the class to see what was discussed.
While smartphones can view and participate in the presentations, you can only start a presentation from a tablet or computer. There are a number of both paid and free presentations that you can choose from, but nearly all of them are for primary and secondary education classes, and not higher ed.
Each slide can only hold five lines of text with an additional title line. If you have a powerpoint presentation, you can convert it into a Nearpod presentation which will allow you to have more lines of text, but it converts each slide of your Powerpoint into an image, so the text is no longer editable and the links no longer work. You can create presentations using your tablet, but I find it much easier to create them on the computer. When creating presentations, you can add images and video from your computer, Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive, if you’re signed into those accounts.
When you register, you are given a trial “gold” premium account. With the trial you can try each premium feature up to three times before it is locked and you can no longer use it unless you purchase a subscription. The benefits of the premium account include the ability to add audio, PDFs, a live Twitter stream, YouTube videos, and web page content to slides, it allows you to add the activities matching pairs and fill in the blanks into the presentation. A gold account also bumps your storage space from 50MB to 3GB, allows 50 students per session as opposed to 30, gives you access to Nearpod Homework, and allows you to download reports as Excel files as opposed to PDFs.
Some functions are still in beta, but I haven’t seen any issues with them. Issues do pop up, but there is a community support forum, which has both community responses and staff technical support. While looking through the posts, it looks like most of the responses fall into a few categories; 1. User error, 2. Something needs to be updated, either the app, browser software, or the operating system, 3. Connectivity issues or 4. Other.