January 23, 2018

Technology in the Classroom – Nearpod

We live in a time and age when most people seem to be glued to their devices. The truth is that we cannot get away from technology, which seems to be infiltrating every aspect of our lives. It is no wonder then, that teachers are nowadays expected to adapt their approach to the new digital era. Ofsted inspectors would proudly use phrases like “evidence of innovative use of technology” in their reports. This urges schools to loosen the purse strings to purchase iPads, Smart Boards, premium accounts to access educational resources like Glogster EDU, Storybird, Bitstrips or Nearpod, and teachers to open their mind and sharpen their skills in using these. There is a wide range of applications out there that all promise a better learning experience, more interesting lessons, less paperwork and happier students.

Whether you are an experienced, qualified teacher or still undergoing your initial teacher training course – be it the Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training (DET) or the more expensive but equally valued PGCE, you are required to familiarise yourself with technology to liven up that classroom atmosphere. Students are no longer impressed with tedious lectures or even PowerPoint presentations. In all honesty, they are hardly impressed with anything traditional anymore. Therefore, you need to have more ideas in your toolbox. This doesn’t mean that you need to persuade your headmaster to spend a fortune on the latest iPads before actually doing research to check what you can do with them to benefit your students and meet your lesson objectives.

However, if you are not keen on technology and hardly familiar with devices, there is no need to hit the panic button just yet. You might, instead, start carrying out research – which you could also consider part of your continuous professional development or attend new teacher training courses to familiarise yourself with how devices work in the classroom. You will soon find that there are loads of educational applications out there that could charm your students instantly and give you the opportunity to step into your facilitator role. At the end of the day, what you want is independent students who love you and your lessons, learn loads and don’t roll their eyes as soon as you turn on the projector.

During one of the sessions of our Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training (DET) course, which teachers attend to enable them to obtain their QTLS (Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills), we evaluate some of the innovative and creative approaches in education and training. This is how we found out that classroom applications such as Nearpod, Socrative, ClassDojo, Plickers or Kahoot can turn the teacher into an important cog in the machine within their school or organisation.

Some teachers are often surprised to see how easy an application like Nearpod www.nearpod.com works, how many options it has and how it can turn the devices in students’ pockets into “gateways to knowledge,” as the American scientist Ray Kurtzweil once suggested. This educational application has now become popular among more than 5 million students all over the world. Teachers can make use of their own tablet, laptop, PC or smart phone to create content, upload slides, clips and websites, devise tasks. Moreover, they can create quizzes and activities to check students’ knowledge and make assessment fun.

Nearpod is a great solution to make use of smart phones, tablets or iPads in the classroom. As long as these are connected to the Internet, students will be able to synchronously access multimedia content and work either individually or collaboratively to complete tasks without having to gaze at the screen in front of the class, while thinking of yesterday’s match. An educational application like Nearpod will give them an active role in their learning, will keep them interested and involved throughout the lesson and will enable them and the teacher to check their progress. Quizzes can be easily designed and there are various options available. Nearpod is also free if you opt for the Silver edition. For a very small fee you can get the Gold edition that entitles you to even more features. The sessions can be adapted and reused with other classes as well, reducing your planning time later on.

On the flipside, Nearpod relies on an Internet connection, which not all organisations and schools have at all times. Moreover, some teachers mentioned that the ability to customize slides or other content is quite limited. Therefore, extensive use of the app is not a good idea. The good news is that there is always the option to alternate with other applications like Kahoot or Socrative.

All in all, educational applications like Nearpod will give any teacher an opportunity to step away from traditional approaches. Students won’t have to hide their phones under the desks anymore and probably won’t have a chance to check their social media. If they do, however, their new status will be “enjoying today’s session.”

Blogger Claudia Boerescu Blogger Claudia Boerescu – Teacher Trainer, Educator, Lead DET Tutor

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