Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Design Something Cool with Nearpod

Participants at EduDesign Shop await proposal pitches.
About year ago I had a really amazing experience.  I was selected to participate in EduDesign Shop, a design thinking weekend organized by Jessica Artiles, a graduate student at MIT.  100 people - 25 educators, 25 policy makers, 25 designers, and 25 students - met on a Saturday morning, ready to solve a problem in education that focused on incorporating arts in STEM education, motivational structures, or retention and support for diversity in STEM fields.  It was reality show-esque:  We learned and worked all day Saturday and Sunday in teams of 4 to ideate and prototype an idea and then pitch it in a 2 minute proposal to a team of experts.  Watch my team's pitch here.  I have never had a crazier weekend.  And I loved every minute of it.

With no experience in design thinking, it was a tremendous experience for me.  Because I so enjoyed the weekend of design, I was thrilled to read the news today that the movers and shakers at Nearpod, one of my fave webtools, collaborated with the designers and thinkers at Stanford to create a high school introduction to design thinking.  The premise is very cool.  First students answer questions in order to partner with someone.  Then they tackle a PBL with a goal of creating something that will help the partner's morning get off to a better start.  The Nearpod Presentation walks the teacher and students through the process, alternately teaching some design thinking and challenging students to apply the steps to the problem at hand.  By the end of what seems like two class periods, the students should have prototyped their ideas.

The materials developed by Nearpod and Stanford are detailed enough that I could do it with little background but rich enough that I don't think I would need to supplement the project.  They supply the presentation you can use in class, a template you can alter for a different version of a task, and a teacher guide.  Take a look:

One of the things I like best is that they show how this tool can very much be used to support inquiry learning or PBLs.  At first glance Nearpod looks like it could be just a lecture enhancer.  This terrific set of tools shows that Nearpod is so much more.  I am looking forward to showcasing this presentation next month at the Educate to Innovate STEM Conference at Clarion University.

If you are a high school teacher and you use Nearpod, I recommend you check it out.  If you don't already use Nearpod, this might be a great time to take a look at this tool.

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