January 15, 2016
Teachers Talk - Nearpod, Your Go-To Tool for Classroom Interaction
Colin Hill, Director of Computer Services, Burman University, Lacombe, AB

If you haven’t yet heard of or used Nearpod, then prepare to meet a tool that could become your best friend. It can be used as a mobile or in-class learning platform that allows you to engage your students and gain insight into their learning.  Rather that having them check their technology at the door or be distracted by allowing personal devices in the classroom, turn those devices into part of the solution.  Before we look in more detail at these features and how to use this tool, it is important to explore a little further how this tool can be used in the face-to-face or distance learning classroom.
 
As a presentation tool: Nearpod allows you to push content in real-time to your students mobile devices or computers so that the entire class is seeing the same material.  Learners may move through content individually at their own pace, or you can control the pace that the entire class moves through in unison.
 
As an instructional tool:  Prepared lesson material may be projected to all learners at the same time on their own devices (great for rooms that do not have projectors).  Teachers can project student work to the class to initiate discussions or work on group solutions and evaluate individual responses.  During a presentation, you can be alerted when a student exits the app, an indication that they may not be “on-task”.
 
As an interactive tool:  Content can be interactive, so that immediate responses can increase student engagement.  Polls are easily initiated by the teacher with immediate results that can be displayed to the entire group, leading to great discussions.
 
As an assessment tool:  Nearpod provides immediate feedback of polls and quiz items that can indicate when re-teaching would be advantageous.  Homework assignments can also be completed with a quiz or open ended questions as part of the task.
 
As a homework tool:  Students can access content on their own using an app on their mobile devices or any web browser.  Open ended questions can be responded to and reviewed by the teacher and used for preparing follow up materials.
 
Got your attention yet?  Let's take a closer look at how this tool allows you to accomplish all this.  First, you will need to establish an account on the Nearpod system.  Point any browser to www.nearpod.com and follow the direction to create an account.  Note that you may sign in with your Google or Facebook credentials and link to those accounts.  Students will also need to create or login to their Nearpod accounts to access material.  There is a range of account levels from Silver (the free version) Gold, School and District, each providing a few more features, more detailed reports or more control and support services.
 
Once you have logged into your account, you are presented with the Home menu screen.  The options here are:
So go ahead and give it a try.  If you have been hesitant to use technology in your classroom, this could be the tool that will allow you to move down that road quite easily.  Happy Nearpoding.