In many ways, NearPod is a teacher’s dream. It is a way for us to deliver a presentation directly to our students’ devices. Within those presentations, we can embed activities such as short answer questions, multiple-choice questions, a sketch, polls, and external websites. In addition, it allows us to have a good deal of control over what students are seeing and doing on their devices. From the teacher’s point of view, using NearPod give us access to a good amount of information. For example, after presenting a new grammar point, I might choose to ask a few short answer questions to check for understanding. As my students answer those questions, I can see their responses coming in. I know right away the degree to which they’ve understood the concept and I can make a decision about whether to move on or to do a bit of re-teaching. NearPod provides us with a quick and easy check for understanding for all students.
Setting up a NearPod presentation is a snap, especially if you have already existing PowerPoint presentations to use as your starting point. If you’ve got a PowerPoint that you’d like to convert to a NearPod, you simply import the PowerPoint file into NearPod using the NearPod website. There, it is converted into individual slides, then, you can add in the polls, short answer questions, multiple-choice questions etc. Once you’ve got your NearPod set up, you publish it to make it available to push to student devices. When you’re ready to do the NearPod session with students, they simply open up their device to NearPod and input the key that you provide and the fun begins.
Another wonderful feature of NearPod is that, in order to participate in a session, each student must provide his or her name. In the teachers view, I can see the roster of students who are logged in. If I have 26 students in the class, I see a green number 26 at the top of the teacher interface. If a student looses focus and decides to navigate out of NearPod and into some other app, that number at the top of the teacher interface turns red. The teacher can then access the participant roster and see exactly who has left the session. Last year was my first year teaching in a 1:1 classroom. From time to time, I wondered whether my students were doing what they were supposed to be doing on the iPads. With NearPod, I don’t have to wonder anymore! It’s easy to see who is on task and who needs redirection.
NearPod works on any web-enabled device. There are Chromebook, Windows, Android, and iPad versions of the app. To get started by setting up a free account, go to www.nearpod.com. Here’s a link to a very short introductory video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGTb6L1zkxs&list=UUZObtfKJpsY-lywwLvYQbdA