I have been wanting to write a post for a while about the amazing tool that we came across last year, that has truly changed the way we use iPads in our classrooms, but haven’t had a venue to do so. Now that I have my new website, I decided it was a must! If you aren’t familiar with this groundbreaking Nearpod iPad app, I want to take a minute to share it with you and explain how it changed our school.
Nearpod is an App that allows teachers to share presentations; but wait, there’s more! It also lets you be a fully engaged participant and interact with the presentation through polls, quizzes, videos, drawing interactivity, website-sharing, self-guided quizzes and more.
Needless to say, it is a presenter’s dream come true. Our faculty use this in a number of different ways, from having students solve math problems, to reading teachers having students underline a text’s main ideas, to drawing the anatomy of plants.
Starting Out With Nearpod
I’ll never forget my first experience with Nearpod. Felipe Sommer, one of the founders of Nearpod, came to our school to share the App that they were working on. Nearpod is located in Hallandale Beach, Florida, and we are literally right down the road in Fort Lauderdale, so Felipe came to meet me at my office. The whole meeting was fate. We were new to the iPad game, as were many other schools, and weren’t quite sure how we wanted to use them in the classroom. Yes, we used them for self-directed learning, but we wanted to do more. Many schools were struggling with this quandary.
At Pine Crest, we differentiate instruction, and the iPad is great for that, but we still also provide whole group instruction. The iPad wasn’t made for whole group lessons, and we wanted a tool that could not only be used for self-directed learning, but whole group. At the time, we were using CPS systems and SmartRespone systems, but we now had iPads in the students’ hands. When I experienced Nearpod, I knew that I had been given a true gift.
Felipe came to me to share this revolutionary App and he walked me through the experience. I was one of very few people to see this App, and knew there was a lot of potential. At the time, the computer needed to download a piece of software to make the presentation run and the only interactivity was polls and questions. Right there alone, it met our needs, but after talking more with Felipe he let me in on some of their secrets of what was to come. Our demonstration meeting quickly became a brainstorming session, and was not only the start to a great working relationship, but a great friendship. I truly respect his innovative mind, business sense, and his respect and dedication to the field of education.
Inevitably we became a pilot school, and one of the first schools in the country to work with the new iPad version of Nearpod, which was previously an iPod Touch App. Nearpod sent their team of technicians to our school to help us test our network and make changes, to make what is now the older version of Nearpod work. Their technical support was there every single step of the way, and made sure that we succeeded. Their dedication and support to schools has not changed, even now that they have over 40,000 educators using the App.
In return, we provided the opportunity for Nearpod to come to our school, test our network, and meet with our students and teachers who were piloting this program. It was a surreal experience because any problem we were experiencing was updated within days, and all we needed to do was download and deploy the new version of the App. To have a developer work with us, and listen to our input to make the product better, was amazing for everyone.
Feedback Becomes Reality
So, what are you using now that we suggested? Well, one of our favorites is the Draw-It feature. Our reading teacher wanted away to have an article from a book and allow the students to circle main points. She gave the suggestion to Nearpod and about 2 weeks later, it was a new feature! We also suggested a different way to view the presentation on the teacher’s end, so you could push-out a particular screen, allowing the presentation to become non-linear.
Seeing this App grow from the very beginning has been a very rewarding experience. To know that we were one of the first to work with Nearpod, and provide insight and ideas, has made this relationship a very rewarding one. I have had the opportunity to continue this relationship and every now and then meet with Nearpod and give them ideas or a response to a new feature. I also make sure when I give a presentation, to “Nearpod”ize it.
Since we have implemented Nearpod, our use of iPads has increased. We have also purchased the School Edition, which allows our teachers to run the App on their iPads, while the students can interact with the presentations on their laptops, using the new web-console available only to School Edition subscribers. Once teachers see the power behind Nearpod, the post-session reports that are provided, and the ability to allow all students to interact, regardless of the device, they are immediately sold.
Be sure to check out Nearpod in the App Store. This free App will truly reinvigorate the way you teach, and allow you to use the iPad in a whole new way!