Over the last month, Clarissa and I have been beavering away, meeting up with lecturers within Chemistry to introduce them to Nearpod, showcase how it could be used within their teaching and training them in using the app.
This has proved to be a busy time for us as we have been tasked with introducing the app to both first and second year lecturers, as initially we were only meant to using Nearpod with the second year lecturers; so in theory doubling our work load. I think it would be fair to say that most lecturers are keen to integrate the app in some way within their busy teaching curriculum. However, how it is integrated into the chemistry modules is proving to be unique for each core module and even each lecturer, as different features appeal to different methods of teaching and of course the content being taught.
A popular function of Nearpod amongst the lecturers is the ability to share students work (through activities provided by Nearpod) anonymously whilst giving a lecture/presentation. This is seen as mostly beneficial for workshops and tutorials, which have small groups of students. The key part to this feature is the anonymity, as some students are not always keen to participate when faced with an audience of peers. This lack of participation often leads to disengagement and perhaps a decrease in understanding, so Nearpod provides a neat way in which to engage that percentage of students and overcome that problem. The other benefit to this sharing ability, is that lecturers are able to see the students way of thinking; and furthermore share this with the student so they themselves can instantly see how well they understood what is being taught.
Another area which all lecturers seem to be happy to incorporate, is to use the application for attendance monitoring; replacing paper based registers which can be a distraction when you’re trying to grasp a complex concept. This monitoring of attendance also means lecturers can easily see participation levels within students when completing an activity.
The main problem Clarissa and I have faced is convincing the lecturers that Nearpod will work. It’s clear that during their teaching careers they have been introduced to many similar apps that have failed for various reasons, such as the the app not being designed to cater for a 200 strong chemistry cohort. The other issue is trying to include Nearpod and it’s activities efficiently so that it not only benefits the students but doesn’t take up too much of the lecturers already busy schedules. This has been tackled through providing and offering training for Nearpod to the lectures, to make using Nearpod a smooth process. Currently this is taking shape mostly in the form of one on one training, where Clarissa and I talk the lecturer through creating a lecture which includes some interactive elements. However, we are aiming to provide further support for this by creating a user guide. The user guide for Nearpod will come in two forms: a talk through step by step document that will be similar to any know-how manual, and a virtual guide which will show Clarissa and I using Nearpod in real time and completing tasks within Nearpod.
So I guess you could say as busy as we are and have been all month, progress is most definitely being made despite the bumps in the road and hopefully in a couple of weeks, our Nearpod pilot project for Chemistry will be flying high, with only a little turbulence to be encountered along the way.