Interactive Teaching with NearPod

This blog post consists of notes from the recent workshop: ‘Interactive Teaching with NearPod’. This workshop was the fourth in the ‘Teaching with your iPad’ series. The learning objectives for this session were to be able to:

  • create lecture content using NearPod
  • share content and control activities with students in a teaching environment
  • monitor individual and aggregate results of students’ NearPod work.

What is NearPod?
NearPod is an app that allows teachers to prepare lessons that combine presentation, collaboration and assessment and then manage how that information is then shared on a student’s mobile device. Teachers create a slide presentation using NearPod and then embed video and add polls, quizzes and activities. This presentation with all of its interactivity can then be delivered synchronously to a class using NearPod or distributed as homework for asynchronous lessons. The results of any polls, quizzes, etc are stored for retrieval by the teacher later on to monitor student performance, opinion, etc.

Pre-workshop homework (asynchronous NearPod use)
Prior to the workshop, participants were sent an e-mail asking them to download the NearPod app onto their iPads from the App Store free of charge. They were then to view an introductory presentation about NearPod using the NearPod app. You can do this now by opening the app and entering the code RAJQN to login as a student. This pincode is generated when the teacher creates a presentation and saves it as ‘homework’. This file demonstrates some of the functionality possible in NearPod presentations (e.g. polls, quizzes, videos) and how NearPod can be used to deliver packages of information for asynchronous learning at any time and any place.

NearPod (synchronous NearPod use)
Ian Miller, The University of Manchester Faculty of Life Sciences eLearning Manager, used NearPod to present in the workshop. His presentation can be accessed by opening the NearPod app and entering the code HJCSQ to login as a student. This pincode is generated when the teacher opens the NearPod presentation in class – it is shown at the top left of the slide for all students to enter into their own devices.

Ian’s presentation demonstrated some of the functionality of NearPod, as well as showing how the teacher can remotely control a synchronous lesson by working through a NearPod presentation. As Ian swiped through his presentation pages the students’ view on our devices also changed. We were able to visualise on the large screen what the teacher sees on his/her computer in comparison to what we, as students, could see. Ian also demonstrated how teachers can ‘push’ the results of interactive quizzes or student work to the student devices as they wish.

University of Manchester staff can view the podcast of this interactive session by clicking here and using their staff ID to login. You might like to login to the presentation in NearPod and flip through the student pages as you watch the podcast and Ian moves through the presentation in the workshop. This will give you a better sense of the interactivity of NearPod.

You might also find it helpful to watch this YouTube video that talks you through the synchronous use of NearPod.

Creating content using NearPod
To create NearPod content, go to their website and login. You will need a user licence in order to do this or you could register for a free trial on the website. Once logged in, click on the ‘create’ button and this will open a page where you will see a box with a blue ‘plus sign’ in it. Click on this box and this will open a new NearPod presentation for you. Once the new presentation is open, you will see a similar box with a blue cross – this is the first page of your NearPod presentation. If you click on this box, you will have the option of importing a PDF as well as numerous other options. If you convert a PowerPoint to a PDF file and upload this PDF presentation from your computer, NearPod will automatically give each slide a new page. It’s that easy! Now that you have the main content uploaded, you can continue to click on the ‘plus box’ to add weblinks, polls, quizzes, etc to your presentation to make it interactive and engaging. To move the pages around you simply click on them and drag to the position you want.

Once you have finished creating your presentation, click on ‘done’ and then the screen that opens will have a few icons that ask you whether you want to ‘share’ the presentation for review by others, set the presentation as ‘homework’ for students to access and undertake asynchronously, or ’publish’ for students to work through the presentation synchronously with you in class.

This YouTube video outlines how to create NearPod content, however, be aware that this has been made using an older version of NearPod. Although the functionality remains the same, the look and icons are now slightly modified.

Accessing results
Andrew Wilson, an eLearning facilitator from the Manchester Business School, talked the workshop group through how to access results of any polls, quizzes or other interactivity that you set up in a NearPod presentation. First you need to go to the NearPod website. Again, you will need to be logged in. This time click on the ‘assess’ button. You will be able to see individual student results, as well as pie charts of overall results.

You can either view your data online, or you can convert it into a PDF which can be saved elsewhere or printed.

Although this is not an exhaustive list, there are a number of useful applications for NearPod in a higher education context:

  • Step-by-step guide in lab work with in-built questions.
  • Large lecture group teaching to increase interactivity and capture information about student understanding (up to 100 before connectivity becomes an issue).
  • Flipped teaching – students do ‘theory’ at home and come to class ready to discuss.
  • Deliver distance learning content.
  • Revision content and practice examinations.
  • Problem-based learning groups.
  • Field trip activities and resources.

Workshop resources
Finally, the following resources have been developed to support this workshop series:

Additional resources
A course is also available through iTunesU on using NearPod.

Next workshop
The next workshop, ‘Building iPads into Student Activities and Assessment’, will take place on Thursday, 20th June at 4pm in the Michael Smith Lecture Theatre. It will focus on the use of the Scoop.It, Mindjet and iMovie apps. On completion of this workshop we hope you will be able to:

  • gather resources in ScoopIt
  • create mind maps using Mindjet
  • create movies using iMovie
  • conceptualise activities and assessments built around these apps
  • identify other apps that have potential use in student activities or assessment.

We welcome comments on this post. In particular we would like to hear any other ideas you may have for using this app in a higher education context.

About Cathy Thomas-Varcoe

I have a passion for distance learning and the opportunities it provides for lifelong learning. I have spent the past 11 years focussing on delivering quality distance learning. Drawing on my nursing background, I initially worked for the Royal College of Nursing Institute who ran undergraduate and postgraduate distance learning programmes validated by the University of Manchester and then for The Open University Health and Social Care Faculty. More recently I was a learning solutions consultant for The Open University’s Centre for Learning and Professional Development. In January 2012 I was appointed as the Distance Learning Lead for the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester. I have been involved in courses from concept to delivery, but the bulk of my work has focussed on writing and conceptualising distance learning courses.
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