I had previously heard about the Nearpod app for iOS but at almost exactly the same time three weeks ago a student and a subject teacher contacted me in person and via email to say that they had just used the Nearpod web app in a class and it had gone very well. Up until that point I had decided to wait for a class set of iPads before investigating Nearpod further but was intregued to move the app closer to the top of my to-do list.
The Nearpod web app is flash-based so ensure that you have the most recent update installed . My classroom was on version 11.0 but this wasn’t high enough to be compatible. It then took a few weeks to get the teacher and student PCs updated to 11.9, so it is a very good idea to check the version of Flash Player installed on the machines you intend to use.
Nearpod allows the class teacher to create interactive presentations which are downloaded to the machines of those who join the specific session. Students join a session using a PIN code and either complete a presentation at their own pace (homework session) or follow in-sync with the class teacher (live session). Each student joining the session is asked for their name and optional student ID and this information is shown to the teacher so they can ensure everyone has signed into the lesson.
Setting up a presentation is very easy as Nearpod allows for import of PDF, PPT and image files. It even supports a compressed folder of images, so you can quickly upload all the elements you need for the static sections of your presentation.
Where Nearpod sets itself apart from services that just show presentations e.g. Slideshare, Google Drive, Microsoft 365 and Prezi is the ability to embed interactive tasks for students in the lesson. Nearpod offers quick polling, multiple choice quizzes, open responses and drawn responses and any number of these can be included in each presentation. When a student submits their work it appears on the teacher’s screen and can be shared back to all students if there is a particular learning opportunity.
Also, on completion of the live session, Nearpod allows you to save a PDF summary of responses from all students who took part in your lesson. It also emails you this PDF for your records, possibly in case you didn’t choose to print or save the summary straight after the lesson.
I used it a few more times during the week with different classes. My Higher class loved it so I intend to use it more with them for plenary and revision tasks. My third year class tried it during a period of intermittent web access and this put them (and me) off a little – syncronisation was slow and in some cases students in the class did not get the same content as other students. However for classes where consistent high speed is an issue I can recommend the “homework” session. All students were able to access this and work on the tasks at their own pace. To be honest I didn’t miss being tethered to the front desk to push the synchronised presentation forward, but I can see this being useful when iPads are ubiquitous in my classroom.
**Plugins:** Flash player 11.9 needs to be installed. It’s always a good idea to keep the plugins up to date anyway, but I concede it can be difficult to do in a school environment.
**Planning:** Visuals have to be designed carefully, luckily Nearpod can import a range of file formats so work does not always have to be recreated.
**Bandwidth consumption:** It would be nice to not have to rely on the Nearpod website to push data to the students in the local network. I’ve not fully investigated how much data is consumed when using Nearpod, but wouldn’t like to imagine what will happen to the school Internet connection when many classes attempt to use it at the same time.
– Use as a starter or plenary task to check completion of homework, pre knowledge in a topic.
– Multiple choice or free response exam technique formative assessment. Give instant feedback, show good examples, save responses as record of progress.