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