How I'm Using Nearpod for Hybrid Learning

I've been using Nearpod for several years now (click here for a post I wrote back in 2015 about it), but since the transition to hybrid learning, I have found it especially useful.  While it's not perfect (I'll share some of its shortcomings here as well), it makes it easy to engage students both in the classroom and at home.


What I Like About Nearpod

I Control the Slides


Being able to control the slides is essential for hybrid lessons.  In a traditional in-person setting, this doesn't really matter because students are viewing the slides on the Smart Board, so of course I control them.  For an all-virtual lesson, if I want to share a presentation and control the slides, I can share my screen.  But the way I'm set up in my classroom for hybrid right now, things get a little tricky, because I've got some students in the room, viewing the presentation on the Smart Board, and then others logged in on Zoom, who can see the Smart Board, but can't always read small print.  For those students, I need to provide them an alternate way to view the presentation.  If I give them a PowerPoint, they could potentially get off track as to what slide I'm on.  Plus, if I have a slide with a question on it and then a subsequent slide with the answer, students could see the answer before I am ready for them to see it.  Using Nearpod and being able to control the slides solves that problem.  Plus, with my new clicker, which works with both PowerPoint and Nearpod, I am moving through slides more easily than ever.


Time to Climb


Time to Climb is a game embedded in Nearpod.  You input a series of questions, students pick an avatar, and then they move up the hill if they get questions right.  It's fun to see their little avatars climb the hill!  It's great to have a game right within Nearpod that doesn't require an additional code, which saves time (although it takes a minute for students to choose their avatars).  Here's a video of it in action (email subscribers must view the post on the blog):




Polls/Quizzes


With so many students attending the lesson from home, it's essential to employ comprehension checks that ensure engagement from all students, and the polls and quizzes that you can embed in Nearpod do that easily.  Again, they are already logged into the Nearpod, so it makes using them seamless.  Above, I polled students on what city they were from.  There was no right answer, but in answering they were engaging with new vocabulary.  I love the wheel which breaks down how many people chose which answer.


Draw It


In the years leading up to covid, I had ditched traditional mini whiteboards and dry erase markers because it was so time consuming passing them out and collecting them and the students were constantly doodling on the whiteboards.  Instead, I was having students use the whiteboard app on their school-issued device to draw or write answers to prompts.  Now, again with hybrid lessons, the Draw It feature in Nearpod has become more useful than ever in being able to view all students' responses.  Below, a student's interpretation of "Je ne sais pas !"





Matching


Matching is another great way to formatively assess students during a lesson.  I like how you can use images to avoid the use of English.


What I Don't Like About Nearpod

As much as I love Nearpod, there are a few things about it that really frustrate me.


Little Control Over Design

I suppose this could be a nit-pick, but Nearpod is limited in its design options.  You get much more control over font size and choice in PowerPoint, Google Slides, or just about any other presentation program.  Now, of course, you can import PPTs or Google Slides, but that's an extra step if you are creating a Nearpod lesson from scratch and the slides are imported as images so you can't go back and edit the text or placement of other elements.  It just seems strange to me that they allow such little control.


Glitchy/Downtime

Recently Nearpod has experienced some glitches and downtime.  I've been lucky that none of these have occurred while I was teaching, but it's frustrating when you're trying to work on a lesson and the site is down.


Can't Go Over Time to Climb Answers

The only way to go over the answers to Time to Climb is to exit the presentation and look at it in preview mode.  I find this frustrating.


One of My Recent Nearpod Lessons

I recently used a Nearpod lesson to provide a little comprehensible input to my students.  I introduced (or reintroduced) my students to the characters from Frozen and stated some facts (some of them true to the movies and some that I made up), then students played Time to Climb to review.  Here is the Nearpod (email subscribers will need to view the post on the blog):



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