Nearpod: An Interactive Tool for Direct Instruction Online or On Ground

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Imagine an app for the iPad that brings interactive technologies to every student in your class – given they have an iPad in their hands.  That is Nearpod’s goal, and so far it is living up to its self-imposed challenge.

Teachers benefit from this app in a few ways.

  • First, it enhances the effects of direct instruction by making it more interactive and inclusive.
  • Second, teachers can purge their classroom of sundry high-tech and low-or-no tech items, since this app covers those functions.

Let me give you a couple of examples.

Last year a friend was writing a grant to bring remotes (also called clickers) to her classroom.  These clickers would capture student responses during direct instruction and increase her opportunities for formative assessment of all students with the resulting data.

In my class this year, I used small whiteboards to capture team responses during collaborative learning, since I had no computer access (that’s another story).  After posing a question, teams would discuss their answer and the team leader would write their answer on the whiteboard.  By capturing the answers this way, I could ensure all teams were on-task and perform formative assessment at the same time.

With Nearpod and the iPad, my friend and I would have been able to ditch the clickers and the mini whiteboards, along with any number of other pieces of equipment, in favor of each student having an iPad.

 How It Works

Nearpod has a teacher app and a student app.  The teacher app controls what the students experience during the lesson.  Students enter a PIN that gives them access to the lesson displayed on the teacher app.  As the teacher provides direct instruction, everyone is literally on the same slide.  Students cannot swipe back and forth; this gives the teacher control over the pace of the lesson.

Since active learning is preferable to passive learning, teachers often engage the students during direct instruction.  Nearpod has four ways to encourage active learning during a lesson: polls, Q&A, quizzes, and picture drawing.  Nearpod also allows teachers to embed videos into their presentation, which provides a nice change of pace from listening to the teacher.

Teachers can create presentations or download a presentation from the Nearpod store.  The free presentations are limited in number, but robust in content.

For more information, please visit  Check out my photo gallery, too, for a presentation I created using the Nearpod Content Tool.

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