Tuesday, May 15, 2012

NearPod Review

I was recently asked by our IT person to review a new iPad app called NearPod, so I thought I would put my review on the blog so other people could read about it too.

NearPod is a free app that allows teachers to put presentations on student iPads.  These presentations can be found on the NearPod store.  All of their presentations are currently free, many of them being derived from the Khan Academy.  The presentations include both video and text and give the students a chance to answer questions along the way. They also give teachers the freedom to build presentations, which is a good thing with only 17 presentations currently in their store. Teachers control the pace of the lesson.  A student cannot just fly through the lesson to get to the end.  The only way to advance to another page is when the teacher advances it.  Teachers also have the ability to put test results or student drawings on everyone's iPad.

What I Like About NearPod:

  • This is a great way to put a multimedia lesson in front of children without a projector.  Each child holds vibrant videos and cool pictures in their hands. 
  • Every student is forced to respond to every question AND the teacher gets immediate feedback on how each student understands the content.  This information can be emailed to the teacher for review later if necessary. 
  • It's quick. It's easy.  It takes little planning.  This is especially a good thing when you're feeling frazzled like I am today.
  • It's paced by the teacher.  I have numerous students who attack their work at a sprinter's pace when I intended an artistic masterpiece.  There is value in going slowly and digesting the information at hand.
What I Don't Like About NearPod:
  • It's really nothing more than a textbook.  Don't get me wrong.  It's on an iPad, so it's more cool than a textbook... but it's the same thing.  There is nothing really interactive about it.  Students are still passive learners.
  • There is a lot of information for a child to digest.  My wife (a former 5th grade language arts teacher) and I did the graphic organizer example together.  This lesson is to be for kids 8 and up, but I think it's a lot for a 10 year old, much less an 8 year old. 
  • The diagrams are not necessarily visually and kid friendly.  They had my wife write on a fish diagram, and they expected her fingers to write very tiny on a very small line.  Then, she had to do a crossword puzzle, but you couldn't actually see the puzzle in thumbnail and couldn't type the answer in enlarged view.  
  • It's paced by the teacher.  Some kids need more time than others.  If they are not done with the page and the teacher moves on, not good.  
In the end, I think that NearPod has some good things to offer.  If you're a teacher just starting with iPads, this is a great tool to get your feet wet.  Everyone has an iPad.  Everyone is engaged at the same time.  Everyone answers questions. It's a step into the the world of iPad integration. If you know me, I'm looking for ways to use iPads to do new things in new ways and to encourage creativity not consumption.  So, I probably won't use it in my lessons.  

For other testing programs look toward Socrative or Flubaroo as well.  

I'd love to hear from other teachers using NearPod.  What are your opinions?  How are you using it in the classroom? 


  1. Craig,
    I have used the NearPod app as well. I had some issues with my students iPads not keeping up, getting frozen, and crashing. That may be more contributed to my devices or the wireless. But, because of the frustration, I took several parts of the lesson out for the next class.
    I did like the ability to slow them down, but you are correct...some students still needed more time.
    It is easy to build and roll out to the kids. So, I may revisit it. But, not a top fave. :)

  2. Craig,
    I have also used the Nearpod appin my class. I seem to remember it being a little different than it is now, for instance, when I attempted to pilot it in my class my students were able to pace them selves. Although I could be mistaken, but I don't think so. I was very dissappointed in the lack of flexibility once I decided to fully incorporate it into my lessons.

    1. Doug,
      I know a lot of people use NearPod and love it. I'm not a presentation software kinda guy. I do think that teachers who are just getting used to using iPads can find value in an app like NearPod and use this as an initial step up the SAMR ladder.

      I've not used NearPod in ages, but you may like my other NearPod review from about a year ago... http://craigsworld37.blogspot.com/2012/09/nearpod-review-revisited.html

      Thanks for the input!

  3. Hello, I just came across NearPod and am one that loves it. Yes, it may be more like a text book but I disagree that it is not interactive. I am basically elementary. I often stop in the middle of the app and do some type of hands on to accompany the lesson. If we pair this technology with developmentally appropriate pedagogy it works out very well.

  4. Melanie,

    I'm glad you found it and love it. I hope NearPod works wonders for you and your students. For some unknown reason, this review has been read by tons of people but it's really based on one evening of trying it out with my wife about two years ago.

    A few months after I wrote this review, I was invited to a private 1:1 display of NearPod with one of its founders and I liked what I saw this time around. I encourage you to read that review at http://craigsworld37.blogspot.com/2012/09/nearpod-review-revisited.html.

    Bottom line: I'm not a presentation software/app guy. I can't remember the last time I've taught with PowerPoint or any such software. If it works for you, I'm super happy. I never wanted to be a downer on NearPod. So, I'm glad there is some love being passed their way!


  5. Thanks for your corrections to this post, Craig! Glad to hear you're going to spend some more time with Nearpod.

    While no tool can be the best fit for everyone, we at Nearpod believe we're developing the most versatile platform out there for creative teachers. And as we keep collaborating with adventurous educators to fine tune Nearpod's utility, we hope you'll find some more to like about it. Here are some ideas of where to start:

    Integrate other apps: http://bit.ly/NPandGoogleApps
    Empower students: https://vimeo.com/95145624
    Check out another teacher's blog: http://www.mathycathy.com/blog/2013/12/nearpod-best-practices-for-math-class/

    Happy exploring!
    The Nearpod Team