Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Nearpod: A "How To"

Hi there!

This guide will teach you how to create and use Nearpod as an effective tool in the classroom. I am not a certified Nearpod expert, however I've created quite a few presentations, used it in my classroom, and done my research. :) Here we go!


First, create the 'bones' of your presentation in Google Slides/Presentation. By bones, I mean the information you want to teach your students (definitions, formulas, concepts, etc.). This serves 2 purposes: it is more user friendly than the Nearpod creation slides, and, due to the limited Nearpod storage, you will always have the 'bones' saved in Google should you need to delete a Nearpod presentation.

After you have the presentation completed, go ahead and save the presentation as a PDF. This keeps the integrity of the file by saving the spacing, pictures, fonts, etc. when transferring it to another program. To do so: File > Download as > PDF document.

Now, it is time to open up Nearpod on your computer! You'll need to set up an account first. Afterwards, sign in. 

Once you are logged in, click 'Create' and then click '+ New Presentation.'

Once you are at that screen, you can see how it says 'draw your files here!' I opened my finder to locate the saved PDF, then dragged it over to the new presentation. The slides automatically upload!

Now is the fun part. Go ahead and delete those first and last 'Nearpod' slides, and add the engaging content. This is what Nearpod is all about! Click 'Add Slide' and select 'Activity.'

You can see here there are 4 free options of activities to add. The activities are very user friendly to create. Your options are: 

1. an open ended question

2. a poll-- This is my favorite to use at the end of a Nearpod presentation to gage how students feel about the concept using a 1-5 scale. It would also be great as a 'hook' at the beginning.

3. A quiz--results show up real time on your iPad or laptop that you are running the Nearpod from. Is everyone missing question 2? Good idea to go back and review that one! After the quiz is submitted, students also see a circle map of their correct percentage and can review the questions, with both their responses and the correct responses shown. You can also add an image to the question to have kiddos respond to that!

4. And finally, my favorite feature, 'Draw It.' This is the most flexible feature as it allows students to highlight, draw and otherwise show their work on either an image or a blank canvas. There are SO MANY options for this! I've included a couple. As students submit their drawings, you can see it real time on your own device. And one of my favorite aspects? You can then share a stellar student example to everyone by sharing it on everyone's screen! 

You can also input YouTube videos! In my experience, the videos lagged due to the strain on the wifi. I found it best to play the video whole group, then go back to the Nearpod presentation afterwards.


Now that you know how to create a stellar Nearpod presentation, you need to know how to use it in the classroom. 

Nearpod can be used on iPads (free app named Nearpod), on laptops (nearpod.com) or even on phones (nearpod.com). Another great benefit is that students do NOT need to create an account to use! The log in for students is similar to Kahoot. Once you start the presentation on your own device, it will generate a 5 letter code. I simply write the code on the board, and the students type the code in the 'Join Session' box. 

When students first sign in, the first slide pops up. Once you slide to the second slide on your device (therefore doing the same on all the other devices), a screen will appear for students to put their names in. This is great because, as you are presenting, you can check on the status of your students by clicking the person button on the upper left hand corner. If Bob's name shows up as red, he is off task and not in Nearpod. I've only had to call out a student once for not being in, after that everyone made sure to stay on task! They were astounded that I knew he wasn't on task. Now, they believe Nearpod gives me 'magic powers.' ;)

As a presenter, the information you gain from the activity slides is great! You see a everyone's responses as they submit the allotted activity. You can also share responses with the whole class by clicking 'Share' when looking at a certain student's response. This is great positive reinforcement, as it keeps kiddos working hard in hopes that their work will be the one to be showcased!! 

Here is the cherry on top of all Nearpod activities. Once the presentation is over, the website saves all the student data for you to see at a later time. It has a group circle map to see the class as a whole, and it also has data for each individual student. To access this information, log in on the website and select reports.

Of course, with any product there will be drawbacks. There are two to speak of for Nearpod. My main complaint is the free version has a limited storage amount (50MB). I've had 4 presentations at one time, but that seems to be the limit. To accommodate for more, I've had to delete older presentations. This is why, at the beginning, I advised you to create the 'bones' of the content in Google Slides. Next year, you'll just have to upload the slides then redo the activities. The second drawback is that, with any free product, there are limitations on what the free account will do. There are a lot of neat aspects of Nearpod (like inserting a Twitter feed) that are only available to premium members. For the time being, I cannot stomach paying $12 a month (or $10 a month billed annually) for the gold membership. There are options for school licenses, however that has to be done through contacting Nearpod.

And there you have it! Hopefully after reading this post, you feel prepared to tackle Nearpod! I'll leave you with some comments my students gave me when I asked for feedback regarding the program:

"I feel like I really learned it."
"We got to do cool stuff with it. We didn't just write stuff down."
"Can we do another one tomorrow?"

Please let me know if there are any aspects of creating or using Nearpod that I neglected to include! I'd be happy to update this post so it is more helpful! :)

With Love from Texas,


  1. You are amazing! Thank you for sharing your hard work with other educators!

  2. Whitney,
    Wow! Thank you for creating this comprehensive guide! I will be sure to share it with teachers who are looking to get started with Nearpod. Have you seen the “Nearpodize This” Chrome extension? It can instantly convert google slides into Nearpod presentations: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/nearpodize-this-by-nearpo/lhgnpdjecinighgmelfinapnkebefomc?hl=en-US. You provide great examples of how to use Draw-It, and good tip for videos in schools with limited bandwidth.

    Regarding the storage limit, you bring up a good point. From our perspective, we want to continue to develop and deliver the best possible platform for teachers for a long time, so we need a way to keep the lights on :). Our main focus is on school licenses, not charging teachers out of pocket. Some schools offer stipends for instructional technology, so we want to keep the individual option open. Are there more teachers using Nearpod at your school? If so, we’d be happy to talk to your administrator!

    Thanks again for your time in creating and sharing your thoughts and tips on Nearpod. Please get in touch if you have additional thoughts or feedback.

    Joshuat at nearpod.com