Thought I might just write a post about a great piece of software I have been experimenting with in the classroom recently. Nearpod is a free app which you can download for iPad/iPhone from the App store. Nearpod allows you to upload your presentations and embed interactive quizzes, polls, worksheets, web browsing, screen sharing and loads more cool features in which in turn you can share onto other iPads, iPhones, PC web browsers and soon Android devices.
Once downloaded to your devices (you need at least 2 for this to work, I have been using it on 12 devices at work) you open 1 master device for the teacher and attach your iPad to the projector. A code appears at the top of your presentation which the students type into their iPads. Once the students have done this it will download your interactive presentation to their devices and ask them to log in. All the student names appear on the white board as they log in and everyones presentation is synced to the teachers device. Once everyone has logged in the fun begins!
I thought I would try it out with a lesson I was teaching on the Ownership and Funding of the BBC and ITV – potentially quite a boring lesson! As you work through your presentation the student devices follow in perfect time from slide to slide. I introduced the topic immediately with a quiz on their current knowledge. The nice thing about this is once the students start the activity they can work through it at their own pace – you can include multiple choice, open-ended and a variety of other types of questions. As the students answer the results appear on the whiteboard in real time. A nice little pie chart is available on screen to show correct and incorrect answers along with individual student results. Once completed you can review each answer from specific students, share them with the students iPad screens, etc. Even cooler is the fact that all of this data is uploaded for the session to the Nearpod website and is available to review and download in Excel format for analysis.
The lesson was divided between me introducing activities and students completing them on the iPads – I won’t go into too much detail but some activities you can do in Nearpod include live polls of students views, the ability to open a specific weblink on everyones devices for research tasks, students can draw on quiz sheets and blank sheets and share them on the teacher device on the projector (which some added their own artistic creations along with the answers – to be expected lol) – the key thing to all these are they are fun!
All of these are really easy to create and as I mentioned before everything completed on the devices is in sync and the results are stored online for review later. You upload your presentation as a .pdf file, it creates the slides for you and then you add the interactive elements. All quite easy and quick! I found that I had to think slightly differently when creating my presentations and think about how and where I would include interactive elements and then add that into the presentation.
Free? Yep. But obviously their are a few limitations – it is fully functional apart from the inability to upload videos to your presentations or include web-links (although you can get round this easily) – you are also limited to only upload 10 presentations, 1gb of space and only connect 30 users to one presentation. Other than that everything is fully functional. I will definitely be using this in more lessons – with the aim of hopefully upgrading to the quite reasonably priced education subscription (which lifts the aforementioned restrictions).
So far, quite a glowing review, the only problem I had was getting the presentations to download onto the devices for the first time – although this has been pinned to our wireless network and works fine elsewhere. Once downloaded to the device it is stored there and opens even quicker next time. I’d highly recommend trying this out if you have a few iPads in the classroom. Hopefully even more interactive features will be added over time, but so far I haven’t seen anything else out there that makes iPads so useful in the lesson in this way.
I polled the students at the end of 2 sessions of using this software and they all really enjoyed the interactivity, the real time feedback and they felt it aided them with their learning. The overall consensus was that they want to use it more. Another positive is that students with their own devices can download the app (approx. 40mb) and link their devices to the presentations.
You can download a variety of demo presentations from within the app to try to give you a sense of how it works quickly. I’m not sure I can share my presentation on here (I think you can in the upgraded software – if we get it I will!) so hopefully some screenshots will suffice, although you really need to try it yourself to get the full experience. If you would like to know any more about my experiences with the software in the classroom drop me a comment below!