Using Nearpod

During the summer, I went on an online course about using technology in inquiry-based learning. One of the tools that appealed the most to me was Nearpod.

For anyone that hasn’t seen it: it’s like projecting an interactive whiteboard on to each student’s device. You can use it to deliver content like notes and videos but also to formatively assess during the lesson.

I got a subscription for myself and have been using it since August.

Top Five Things I Like about Nearpod

  1. You can see what all your students understand about a particular prompt.
  2. You can mix things up with different ways of assessing understanding: Draw It, Polls, Quizzes, Short Text Answers and Cloze tasks.
  3. You can download reports after the lesson and analyse the progress students are making.
  4. You can download other people’s lessons and save time on planning.
  5. You can set presentations as “homework” both as homework and also during lessons with substitute teachers.

Five Issues with Nearpod

  1. The best functionality is not in the free version (probably a no-brainer, people have to be able to make money…)
  2. I really want the matching game to be a flashcard tool… and it isn’t.
  3. The other teachers at my school wanted to try so we reached out for a school subscription. There were several “special offers” all available at the same time but apparently none of them applied to us and it was way too expensive for something my colleagues wanted to try out and see if it was “them”
  4. Having the presentation on in the standard mode means that some students rush their responses so they can use their devices on other stuff while they wait for the others. It’s a Get Out of Jail free card, for easily distracted students.
  5. The pre-made content library has only just started so they don’t always have what I am looking for.

On the whole, I am happy with Nearpod and use it almost every week with at least one class. I feel a bit bad complaining about their subscriptions, it’s a good tool and worth the money. Still, I think it would be better to have a shareware model with one month free full functionality, so I can convert my colleagues more easily.

My students like it but they have commented that it is annoying when other students rush through and then start talking and playing.

The reason I keep using it though is for the immediate formative feedback. I love being able to see exactly how my students are getting on and it gives much better information than my previous non-digital methods of asking students to raise their hands or selecting them to answer at random. By making communication textual, my introverts are much more able to give an accurate account of their current understanding.

Apparently there is a new smartphone app for teachers, so I can walk around the room while I teach. I haven’t tried it yet but it might go some way to helping me combat distraction during activities.

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