OER Review: Nearpod
Nearpod is a learning application that is hosted online, similar to an LMS. It is well organized and provides ready-made or customizable learning modules that can be integrated in any synchronous or asynchronous class. Designed initially for K-12, it has many options for general education or life skills courses and beyond, due to instructors’ abilities to craft their own lessons. Tools include video, slideshow, Q&A, polling, and VR options for making lessons come to life! My only critique is the platform’s limits in terms of field of study. Because it was initially designed for younger ages, the topics tend to skew in that direction. The platform also integrates with Flipgrid to allow for even deeper dives into content through video discussion.
Nearpod is organized by resources, allowing instructors to browse the site’s library by “genre” or by tool itself. You can build lessons using their Quick Create tool and save them to folders hosted on the website. Instructors can also access their reports to track student progress, all clearly displayed on the left-hand column. I especially appreciated the ability to see student responses in real-time during the lesson AND after-the-fact in reports. In addition to this, students receive immediate prompts when completing tasks within the lesson, and can see results in real-time as well.
Because of its use in many age groups, Nearpod excels in usability. It is easy to learn and offers multiple demos and pre-made lessons to find inspiration by. For instructors, it is clearly labeled and easy to navigate. When live, lessons are easy for students to follow too, and instructors can witness this through running a sample lesson in “student mode.” The multimodality of the platform itself makes it highly usable for various types of learners (and teachers!). However, its accessibility leaves me wanting. I cannot clearly find options for transcripts, captions, or descriptive narrations for students or faculty with hearing or visual impairment. This is an area in which I feel many OERs struggle.
As mentioned previously, the existing content on Nearpod is designed for K-12 and the subjects often taught therein. However, there are options that fit well with older groups, and personalization makes Nearpod a strong choice for nearly any course. I think it works exceptionally well with my Communication and Technology class, as it incorporates multiple online tools and functions that I try to introduce to students regardless.