When I was Director of Innovation for my previous school district, we were one of the first schools to embark on a 1-to-1 iPad initiative. In the early days, there were not a lot of apps to choose from that really helped utilize the mobile aspects of the device. That was until we discovered Nearpod. For this week’s review, we’ll take a look at the interactive presentation app, where it’s been and where it is going.
Nearpod was co-founded by three friends from Argentina and based primarily out of Miami, FL. I’ve known two of the founders (Emi and Felipe) since the company got started and we began using their product in 2012. Back then, the product was primarily a hybrid presenting and quizzing tool. It allowed teachers to move around their classroom and not be tethered to their teacher desk.
In 2019, the company acquired Flocabulary, the Brooklyn-based company that creates educational hip-hop songs and videos to supplement learning for K-12 students. While both companies operate under their own umbrellas, those schools with Nearpod site licenses, can have access to the Flocabulary suite of videos.
Two weeks ago, Renaissance Learning purchased both Nearpod and Flocabulary for a whopping $650 million. It remains to be seen how the buy-out will affect both companies, but my hope is that it gives them even more room to grow and improve an already great product.
Nearpod has never sat idle for too long on its product. Taking suggestions for improvements and pushing out extremely helpful updates have been the norm. Starting in 2016, they integrated with Microsoft 365 which helped them include a large segment of the educational community and allowed them to add tools like Sway and OneDrive support. Their 3D models, PhET simulations, and expansive library of pre-made lessons and activities help users looking for unique ways to hook their learners. Newer tools like the collaborative board (added in 2018), Flipgrid and Desmos integrations, and the Time to Climb! quiz feature (added in 2019) expanding on their ever-growing library of resources both free and paid. Their most recent updates include live annotations and whiteboard features as well.
With the pandemic, Nearpod has really shined as an educational tool for distance learning. Since students don’t have to be in the physical classroom to participate (they just need a browser and a join code), everyone can be on the same page of a lesson in teacher-led mode. Alternatively, for students with bandwidth issues or those that might miss time, there is a student-paced mode for students to enjoy, review or catch up on missed work.
Like many ed tech tools, Nearpod has a free version available for teachers. The free version offers most of what the paid versions offer but are very limited in terms of storage and the amount of students per session (40 is the limit). Upgrading to Gold ($10/month) or Premium ($29/month) allow much more storage and students per session and access to the “Sub plan” feature. For my district, we purchased the School wide site license (price varies) which allowed us to access both the entire Nearpod Library but also to host our own District-created library of resources.
Free Nearpod GOLD
As someone who reads this blog, Nearpod has generously offered 90-day upgrade to Nearpod Gold for my readers that might like to try it out. Use the redeem code NP-CARLHOOKER when you go to this redemption page to utilize the discount.
Stand out feature
In 2016, the company partnered with 360 Cities to create an incredible library of virtual reality tours. These tours were especially powerful when coupled with the accelerometer placed in smart phones and tablets like the iPad as it meant students could stand up and move while they learned. Here’s an example of me using this feature with a 1st grade class I substituted a couple of years ago:
Ideas for classroom use
Nearpod has so many additional resources added, that it could be overwhelming for a teacher to get started. Here’s a few steps and a challenge I created for those new to Nearpod:
First use idea:
The first time I used Nearpod, I tried to focus on the core things it does well: Slides and quizzing. I embedded some slides I had already created (you can add them as PDFs/Images or use them with Google Slides) and led the students down a journey of exploration. Sharing details on some slides and then adding an interactive activity in between to check for understanding. Here’s a Nearpod Challenge I created and embedded in my online course if you’d like to try it out.
Subject Specific Ideas:
History teachers have got to love the locations of many of the virtual field trips. One of the most memorable moments I’ve ever experienced with Nearpod was watching a group of middle school students fall completely silent as they visited various Concentration camps in Germany during the Holocaust. You could hear a pin drop as students zoomed in and saw finger nail scratches on the walls.
In Science, the PhET simulations and 3D object library offer many ideas or “hooks” to engage students in a subject. Art and Math teachers will enjoy the built in whiteboard in the interactive Draw feature that allows you to send out a prompt and watch as students respond on their own screen in real-time. Language arts and World Languages teachers can utilize the 3D objects or Virtual Reality Field trips as a story starter or the Matching Game to pair up English words with a different language.
Ultimately, this tool isn’t designed for a specific subject and really is a great core tool to utilize with your staff regardless of what device you use.
There are lots of articles and posts about Nearpod on the interwebs. Nearpod to its credit has curated many of these resources on its blog. That said, here are a few additional resources for those of you interested.
Interactive Reading Lessons with Nearpod (ClassTechTips)
If you have found success using Nearpod in your classroom, feel free to comment below with your ideas. Also, if you have a tool or app that you’d like me to look at and review, feel free to fill out this form. I’ll be sure to give you a shout out (if you like) as well! (Please note – if you are a vendor/company – fill out this link for a sponsored review)