Having had a great in-service last week at school courtesy of the Digital Learning Team (http://digitallearningteam.org/) I decided to try out a new app in class to kick start the use of our fancy new iPad’s in an interactive lesson.
My school bought a class set of iPad just before the Christmas holidays, up to now the pupils have only played games on these. There are a few reasons for this but it is time we used them properly as an educational resource.
After downloading nearpod on the app store and signing up (for the free account) I realised that the lessons had to be made on a desktop, this irritated me, I have been trying to use my iPad (that’s my personal one, not a school one) as my main tool for preparing my lessons, the content I wanted to use was all on it so using my desktop just irritated me.
Now I’m rubbish at doing tutorials, reading set up instructions and everything along those lines, the way I see it if a program is not intuitive then most teachers won’t use it so there is not much point in my piloting it in school (the old GLOW is a perfect example of this).
I very quickly realised that nearpod is not a tool to create content from scratch, it’s designed for people who already have their lessons on PowerPoint. Now again, for a lot of people this might not be a problem but as I am creating a whole new interactive course this created a problem for me as I had to create the slides then upload them. Nearpod also does not like PowerPoint files, you need to save them as pdf files, then upload.
Once my lesson (or nearpod presentation, NPP) was completed I tried to upload it, this is where I hit my next problem. The silver account limits uploads to 20mb per presentation. My presentation included three short videos (none over 3 minutes) which pushed it over the limit. There is no way on the nearpod website to see the size of your presentation prior to uploading, nearpod’s own advice is to put all the content into a folder prior to uploading to see how big it will be!. This was really annoying as I had to decide which video to delete from the presentation in order to upload it.
Nearpod seems like it has the potential to be a great tool for teachers who work in a 1:1 environment using apple products (although their android version is coming). So far I have only prepared a lesson. The main areas for improvement I can see with their product are introducing the ability to create NPPs using iPad’s and having an indication somewhere of the size of file while it is being made.
Our classes are tiny, two to three kids today so we have a 1:1 ratio of iPads to pupils when needed. As I have previously said the pupils are comfortable playing games and browsing the Internet on the iPads, today was their first experience using them in a directed manner, which leads in nicely to nearpod.
Nearpod is publicised as ‘PowerPoint on steroids’, it lives up to this billing. PowerPoint lessons can easily be given a new lease of life through the pupils feeling they have more control of the pace the lesson works at. As a teacher the app has an intuitive interface in lessons which easily allows you to navigate through the presentation.
However it was not all plain sailing, I struggled to get anything more useful than multiple choice out of the assessment options, this might be down to me being a bit stupid, if not it severely limits the usefulness of nearpod in a classroom setting.
The real success of the day was explain everything. The pupils all took to this very quickly, making quality presentations in half the time it would have taken them on computer. They maintained focus with minimal assistance and used the browser effectively to help with research. I cannot praise this app enough, within curriculum for excellence the assessment is supposed to consist of pupils saying, writing, making and doing. This app allows them to cover all three in one assessment, excellent!