Friday, October 24, 2014

Nearpod - Bringing digital content to your lessons

Have you ever wanted to use a PowerPoint presentation with your lesson, but not had a board/screen on which to project? My school has Interactive Whiteboards, and some schools in Israel have projectors in each classroom - but not everyone has such technology at their disposal.  But most of our students now have smartphones! Problem solved! (Providing the phones are connected to the internet via wifi or their phone package.)

I was working with a group of counselors this week, and, while we were in a very technology-rich setting, in a room that had all the bells and whistles, for part of the session, we were divided into groups and could not all use the main projector.

Enter: Nearpod! 

Nearpod is a free application that enables  you to share a PowerPoint presentation, simultaneous with anyone who is hooked up with your presentation, on smartphones, tablets, laptops or PCs, and YOU control the progression of the slides!  

You can use NearPod:
  • in the classroom.
  • for synchronous online sessions (it’s easy to use with Google Hangouts on Air!).
  • at any venue that has access to internet / wifi - even outside (providing you are in conditions that enable you to read the screen - meaning not in strong, direct sunlight.)

Do not be discouraged if you or your students try to download the app to your phone, and you get the message that your phone is not compatible (I almost flipped out when I saw that message ;-). If this happens, your participants can use it with their phones via the phone’s browser.

You can invite your students to a session beforehand by sending them an email from Nearpod, with the URL for the session and the PIN number.  They can go in, but it won’t start showing anything until YOU start the “show”!

You can share materials from different media: PowerPoint presentations, PDF, MP4, websites, interactive polls and lots more. While you are presenting the material, you can see how many students are connected to your presentation, with the counter in the upper left hand corner of your screen (if a student disconnects by opening another app, the counter will show that.)

There are also free lessons that you can download and use. I just played around with a nice one named “Get to Know Each Other” that could be a really nice way to start the new year, or get to know others in any new group. It includes interactive questions, opportunities to  share drawings or pictures, and other questions that will help participants learn a little bit more about each other.  

For Nearpod’s Guides, click here.

I was really pleased with how it worked, and the other counselors in the group were excited about the potential it holds, as well!

If you like the idea of this type of slide sharing, you might also want to explore “Every Slide”, which is another application I heard of JUST before i was about to go in and present with Nearpod, but haven’t had time to experiment with yet. (If I get to do so soon, I will share my impressions and comparisons, as well.)

I think these new options are REALLY exciting, and go one step further to bringing digital content to all of our classes! Can you think of situations in which this tool will help you? If so, please share, below! And if you DO try it out, let us know how it goes!

Digitally yours,

PS Thanks to Efrat Maatoof for suggesting this tool! Check out her blog - she has oodles of great ideas (providing you read Hebrew)