Nearpod: Engage and Assess Students in Real Time

-By Liz Henry, Educational Technology Instructional Designer

Do you use PowerPoint to deliver content to students? Have you ever wanted to get more out of your PowerPoint slides than just simply displaying the content on the screen? If so, Nearpod might be the tool you need to increase student engagement.

What is Nearpod?

nearpod-logoNearpod is a learning tool designed for faculty who are interested in creating and implementing interactive and engaging lessons, while assessing student knowledge. Nearpod’s audience response features provide faculty with opportunities to determine the knowledge level of each student by gaining quick and instant feedback. In addition to audience response features, Nearpod provides extra functionality for interaction through various activity tools and can be used both in the classroom and in the on-line learning environment. Students can use any laptop, tablet, or smartphone to respond to quizzes and polls, participate with drawing features, annotate over the instructor’s lesson for personal note taking, and more.

Benefits of Nearpod

By using Nearpod to present lessons, instructors enable all students to become active participants. Nearpod is an excellent tool for assessing all students, especially those who are less comfortable participating in front of the whole class. As students interact with the lesson, Nearpod tracks their individual responses, and offers faculty the option to obtain a report of student participation and responses.

Types of Nearpod Lessons

Nearpod allows instructors to present live lessons and student-paced lessons. Each type serves a different purpose when providing content to students. A live lesson would be utilized in the face-to-face classroom or during synchronous on-line sessions as it allows the instructor to navigate through the lesson. The pace of the lesson is determined by the faculty member, as students will only view content and activities when shared to their device by the instructor.

Unlike live lessons, student-paced lessons allow students to control how fast or slow they view the lesson. Student-paced lessons can be implemented as homework assignments or used for group work within a face-to-face course. Student-paced lessons are an excellent tool if you plan to implement the flipped classroom model, as faculty can present content through Nearpod and evaluate student understanding before the next face-to-face class meeting.

Creating a Nearpod Account

Nearpod has both free and fee-based options. Duquesne faculty who wish to use Nearpod should contact Educational Technology to request an account and have access to all of the features that the University has as an Enterprise user. Duquesne students or those outside of the University can sign up for a free account at Note that students only need to create an account if they wish to create their own Nearpod lessons. Students will not need to create an account to participate in faculty-created lessons.

Adding Content to Nearpod Presentations

Nearpod allows for a variety of content formats to be integrated into any lesson. The content types that can be utilized within Nearpod allow instructors to incorporate new elements of engagement. The types of content that can be added to Nearpod lessons include:

  • PowerPoints Presentations – Upload previously-created PowerPoint presentations to turn them into Nearpod slides.
  • Slides – Create new, customized slides within Nearpod.
  • Videos – Search YouTube or upload your own video.
  • Audio – Embed audio files into your lesson.
  • Slideshow – Add multiple images at once by searching Google Images or uploading your own image files.
  • Virtual Field Trips – Explore a destination from around the world through 360 cities.
  • Sway – Search a variety of interactive Sway presentations focusing on specific topics.
  • Nearpod 3D – Experience 3D objects created specifically for Nearpod.
  • PDF Viewer – Upload PDF files to include in your lesson.
  • Live Twitter Stream – Enter a Twitter username to embed that user’s Twitter feed.
  • Web Content – Add any website directly to a lesson.

Note that while all of the above features are available to Duquesne faculty who sign up for an account through Educational Technology, some are not currently available for users with free accounts.

Adding Assessment Activities to Nearpod Presentations

Nearpod’s assessment features assist in improving student engagement and gaging student understanding. These options allow faculty to incorporate various question types that can simply check for understanding or require students to utilize higher order thinking skills. The assessment tools available include:

  • Open Ended Questions – Add a question or writing prompt for students to answer directly from their computer or personal device.
  • Polls – Gage the students opinion by creating a poll question.
  • Quiz – Include a set of questions, which the students answer before, during, or after the lesson.
  • Draw It – Have students identify an image or draw a diagram.
  • Fill in the Blanks – Develop a question that requires the students to fill in the blanks of a sentence or paragraph.
  • Matching Pairs – Have students match images or text.
  • Homework – Student-paced sessions where students complete lessons on their own time outside of the face-to-face classroom.

Having Students Join a Nearpod Lesson

Students have multiple ways to join a Nearpod lesson. Students can join a lesson by going to from a PC, Mac, or Amazon Fire Tablet or by downloading the free Nearpod app to their Apple or Android device. Each launched Nearpod lesson is accompanied by a unique Join PIN. Each time a lesson is launched a new Join PIN is created. Without the unique Join PIN students will be unable to gain access into the lesson.  Once students access the lesson they will be prompted to enter their name. As their name will be connected to each response in the assessment report, entering their name is very important.

Nearpod Assessment Reports

An assessment report is available for instructor review after each lesson. Once all questions have been answered and the lesson has concluded the report will automatically generate. Each lesson report will give a detailed account of the students’ overall participation as well each assessment’s submitted responses. Faculty can download a PDF or CSV version of both the class session and individual student reports.

Learn More

Want to learn more about using Nearpod to create interactive lessons for your course? Visit our Training Page to sign up for a hands-on workshop where instructors can participate in a Nearpod lesson as students in addition to building their own lessons.


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