Nearpod: An example of digital tools for class collaboration
By Emily Wood & Yu-Ping Hsu, Western Illinois University
Kearsley (2000) states that there are a number of themes surrounding online education. The first of these themes is collaboration. Online projects often have information-sharing activities between students and employees located in different places. This type of interaction is in contrast with the traditional model of schools in which each classroom is a self-contained and isolated unit. Educators adopt teaching methods and theories to facilitate the communication and knowledge delivery in class (Edwards & Baker, 2010). Education always has new standards need to meet (e.g., the ISTE Technology Standards), and new technologies need to adopt (e.g., different online LMSs), and new methods need to apply (e.g., the importance of social learning).
Figure 1. "Online Learning" (by Alexandra_Koch on Pixabay)
Technology has begun to play an essential role in K12 education since the 2010 NETP made significant progress in leveraging technology to transform learning (Thomas, 2016). Many schools are one to one with Chromebooks, laptops, iPads, etc.; some schools are even two to one. With new technology comes new opportunity to meet the needs of each of our students through differentiation and universal design for learning (UDL), create engaging material, and communicate better than ever before. Collaboration is one of teaching methods for engaging students.
The 2020-2021 school year has brought new challenges with teachers creating online-only curriculum, hybrid material, or creating engaging and collaborative lessons with strict social distancing guidelines. Al-Samarrie and Saeed (2018) explains digital presentation tools can help project collaboration, idea sharing and project progress. Nearpod can be a collaborative and interactive learning platform which allows students to improve their participation. It also gives a chance to interactive with the teacher (Ríos-Zaruma et al., 2019).
Following is a practice of using Nearpod as an option to students’ collaborations and engagement from Emily Wood, who is a high school teacher in Paxton, IL.
A Summary of Nearpod
Nearpod is a free interactive presentation program that can easily be used with Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint; even on presentations already created! The presentations can be student paced or set to live, teacher controlled, participation. You can quickly insert a variety of questions from polls to collaborative boards. Nearpod even has a library of videos and photos you can chose from, and it is also easy to include your own media or YouTube videos.
As a high school teacher, I am excited to share about this tool. I have found great success with it in my own high school art classroom. There is also potential for this platform to reach any grade level or subject area, and Nearpod offers the convenience of several tools in one location.
Nearpod's features almost seem endless. The program contains several tools that are available from other websites or extensions, such as inserting questions for students to answer throughout a video, which can be achieved through the website Edpuzzle, but students can complete this activity without ever leaving Nearpod. The convenience of this, makes Nearpod one of a kind. There are also interactive simulations (See Figure 2) such as for elementary, middle school, or high school math or science classes. Students can move pieces on the screen for a science lab or draw a graph right on the screen! Nearpod has also partnered with other companies such as Flipgrid, Microsoft Sway, and BBC Video for seamless integration. Flipgrid is a creative online video website that allows students to respond to topics by recording videos of themselves. These videos can later be viewed by their peers, and it is easy enough for upper elementary students to use.
Figure 2. FREE Simulations available for Math and Science
I also love the option for the presentation to be student paced or live participation. For example, student paced would be great to use for an asynchronous lesson, while live participation would be essential if working remotely and presenting to students via a live video conference program such as Zoom or Google Meet. Live participation gives the teacher full control of when activities start and the ability to share formative assessment results live with students. In contrast, if students are working through a presentation on student paced, when creating the presentation the teacher can set a time limit for the formative assessments, still allowing some pacing control. Staying organized with Nearpod is also easy. In your personal lesson profile you can create and name folders to store all your creations (See Figure 3). All of these tools have and will continue to aid K12 educators in creating engaging lessons while working entirely remote, in a hybrid model, or in person following social distancing guidelines.
Figure 3. Staying Organized with Folders in Nearpod
Integrating Nearpod into your current curriculum is totally seamless. When I first discovered Nearpod, I added its features to one of my already made Google Slides presentations with minimal knowledge of the features. More of a Microsoft PowerPoint user? Check out the short video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeE3K0REMEw on how to use Nearpod with your already made presentations.
As you will see in the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDfmsnq9Qg0&feature=emb_logo, it is a tool that can be utilized in every lesson for any subject— anytime you use Slides or PowerPoint.
There are several ways to share a lesson with students, as well (see Figure 4). Easily share it directly to Google Classroom or even share a link through the comment section of your live video conference or via email. Students are also able to log in using their Google school account (which the teacher can require found in the settings of the lesson in Nearpod) or if that is not an option for you, students can simply join by typing their name after clicking your provided link
Figure 4. Options for Sharing Nearpod Presentation with Students
I am a high school art teacher, and I like to break up our lengthy projects with quick Art History Bites. These range in topic, but are often 1-2 day activities. I had already created a Google Slide presentation and then integrated Nearpod's features for a lesson exploring Artists with Disabilities. Because of the options in Nearpod, I was able to create a lot of variety throughout the activity. For example, the lesson starts out with students exploring a 360 video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL6NAIVpl54&t=1s of an artist who created a drawing of the New York Skyline from memory.
The presentation continues and guides the students to another 360 video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YM6GTu_RcWM&t=1s to explore the New York Skyline and then create the drawing themselves.
The benefit of this interactive program is that students can complete it independently, so depending on the content this could be a great way to plan a sub lesson, and one that could easily be made up outside of class by a student who might be absent. Keep in mind my students all have their own school issued Chromebook. Continuing, the activity includes reflective poll questions, open ended questions, and a collaborative board. The collaborative board allows for the students to see each other's answers. The hope is that students may struggle through the drawing activity, and then see their peers did also by viewing their reflections on the collaborative board, but it is meant to be a challenge! Students then watch a video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vSvWRMzSz4&t=130s, independently, about a program called Art Enables that employs people with disabilities to create and sell their artwork. The video is pre-loaded with questions students answer throughout. We then finish the activity watching a TED Talk by artist Phil Hansen together. See my lesson screenshots in Figure 5.
Figure 5. Screenshots of the Class
The presentation method engages from a variety of interactivities (e.g., formative assessments, students can easily participate in polls, open ended questions, 3D videos, games, etc.). Each task benefits the student as they can immediately apply the content being taught, as well as benefiting the teacher to quickly check for understanding. Students can receive feedback continuously during their learning processes. Furthermore, teachers have the ability to anomalously share the results of polls, open ended questions, games, etc. with the class. This type of peer sharing benefits students in seeing the varying answers or opinions about a certain topic, or to know they were not the only one to struggle with a certain concept. This is also a great tool for those quiet students who have important things to share, but might lack the confidence to speak up verbally. Students also love Nearpod because they can interact and participate without ever leaving the presentation! This prevents students from having to stop and find a new screen, and potentially becoming frustrated if they get behind. Nearpod proactively keeps students on task and engaged.
Nearpod is one of the popular presentation tools for K12 staff or others to choose from. The capabilities and features of Nearpod made the class more effective. Nearpod also offers immediate student feedback, so you can make live adjustments to meet the needs of your students. This is a useful tool to try in your class.
Al-Samarraie, H., & Saeed, N. (2018). A systematic review of cloud computing tools for collaborative learning: Opportunities and challenges to the blended-learning environment. Computers & Education, 124, 77-91.
Edwards, J. T., & Baker, C. (2010). A case study: Google collaboration applications as online course teaching tools. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6(4), 828-838.
Feldman, A (2016, February, 24). 5 Apps to Transform Teaching and Personalize Learning. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/blog/apps-transform-teaching-personalize-learning-ann-feldmann
Kearsley, G. (2000). Online education: Learning and teaching in cyberspace. Wadsworth Publishing Company.
Pocketful of Primary. (2020, October 11). How I'm Using Nearpod to Teach EVERY LESSON. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDfmsnq9Qg0&feature=emb_logo
Ríos-Zaruma, J., Chamba-Rueda, L., Zumba-Zuñiga, M. F., & Pardo-Cueva, M. (2019, June). Application of ICT and M-Learning to Improve Collaborative Learning and Interaction Using the Nearpod Platform. In 2019 14th Iberian Conference on Information Systems and Technologies (CISTI) (pp. 1-6). IEEE.
The Nearpod Team. (2020, October 8). Building a Culture of Digital Citizenship. Nearpod Blog. https://nearpod.com/blog/building-a-culture-of-digital-citizenship-with-nearpod-and-canvas/
Thomas, S. (2016). Future Ready Learning: Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education. 2016 National Education Technology Plan. Office of Educational Technology, US Department of Education.
About the Co-Authors
Emily Wood has served as an art and graphic design high school teacher in Paxton, IL, for eight years. She has led service trips, been the sponsor of different clubs, and started the first art club at the high school. She has had the joy of creating new classes and revamping the 25+ year program she took over when hired. She believes it is as important to know her students as it is to know her content. The day to day workings of her classroom are student driven, student lead, and technology rich. She has a desire to impact and serve her community through her students unique set of skills and hopes to instill this passion for change in each artist she serves. Outside of the classroom she enjoys cooking, hiking, and spending time with family and friends listening to music, drinking coffee, and visiting.
Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Yu-Ping Hsu is an assistant professor of the IDT program in the Department of Engineering Technology at WIU. She teaches courses in graphic applications, multimedia instructional design and development, performance technology, and internet resources for teaching and training.
Her email is email@example.com.
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