Knowledge construction in the technology-enhance science classroom with Nearpod

In today’s science classroom, students and teachers have access to more knowledge construction tools than ever before. How can teachers leverage tools to support science students in their process of knowledge construction? Nearpod is one tech tool that covers a lot of bases and is worth a shot for teachers in technology-enhanced classrooms who are looking to do more than the traditional slideshow.

Kim et al. (2007) make three assertions about how tools support knowledge construction (p. 1013-1015) that prove useful as a three-part guide to determine the usefulness of a technology tool, and, when used thoughtfully, a tool like Nearpod can do all three (See Fig. 1).Fig. 1 Kim et al.’s three assertions about technology tools.

Like a traditional slideshow, Nearpod allows teachers to present slides in a sequence. Unlike a traditional slideshow, Nearpod decentralizes the lesson by presenting “Live lessons” on the screen of each student device, allows teachers to add a wide range of multimedia slides including, video, audio and web content, and, perhaps most importantly, allows for student interaction and collaboration with activities such as open-ended questions, polls, quizzes, “draw it” slides and a new “collaborate” feature. When the teacher is ready to hand over the reins to students, “student-paced” lessons allow individuals or partner pairs to move through a lesson at their own speed.

Engagement is part of Kim et al.’s first assertion around supporting mindful investigation, and Nearpod lessons can engage students through multiple means of representation (See Fig. 2) and expression (See Fig. 3). The wide range of media types and means by which students can share their knowledge increases entry points for learners. Kim et al. argue that, students can make use of the tool in order to identify meaningful driving questions, explore resources and generate solutions (p. 1013). With Nearpod, teachers can cast a wider net of engagement and provide a wider variety of resources and tools with which students may construct and demonstrate their knowledge.

Fig. 2 Nearpod’s “Add Content” menu includes many options to engage learners (e.g., slides, 3D experiences, simulations, videos, virtual reality field trips and more). Screenshot from

 Fig. 3 Nearpod’s “Add Activity” menu includes a variety of ways for students to demonstrate their learning (e.g., open-ended questions, polls, quizzes, Draw Its, a new collaboration feature and more). Screenshot from

As with any classroom tool, part of the scaffolding is provided through the appropriate sequencing of tasks. One feature of Nearpod that enhances a teacher’s ability to support students with scaffolding allows teachers to add supporting media assets to each slide or activity, including images, video, PDFs or web content (See Fig. 4). In student-paced mode, this feature would allow students to review supporting media if they needed more guidance with a task, and then move on when they were ready.

Fig. 4 Teachers can supporting media to each slide or activity in Nearpod. Screenshot from

Teachers may choose to add metacognitive checks throughout the lesson, as open ended questions or polls. We can ask learners to support their claims with evidence, how they arrived at their claim, if they changed their minds during the process and why. With all of the new features Nearpod brings, the basic slideshow format still allows teachers a good amount of control and structure to build in checks like these so we don’t forget in the course of a lesson or unit.

Live, in-class collaboration is facilitated with Nearpod’s collaborate feature (See Fig. 5). Students can post text and images to a discussion board in response to a prompt. Teachers have the option to approve each post before it is published. Once each student’s contribution is posted to the board, classmates may support and promote each other’s ideas by “liking” them. A counter on the bottom of each post keeps track of likes. This is a quick and engaging way to field ideas from the class or brainstorm together to solve a problem.

Fig. 5 Teacher editing view of Nearpod’s collaborate feature. Screenshot from

All things considered, Nearpod is a technology tool that shows much promise toward supporting mindful investigation, scaffolding metacognition and facilitating collaboration. A concern I have is the time it would take for a teacher to create engaging Nearpod lessons on their own, despite its user-friendly interface. I would suggest that teachers new to Nearpod take a look around their extensive library of free and paid lessons that are already built, so that they might start by adapting existing lessons rather than starting from scratch.


Kim, M. C., Hannafin, M. J., & Bryan, L. A. (2007). Technology-enhanced inquiry tools in science education: An emerging pedagogical framework for classroom practice. Science Education, 1010-1030. doi:10.1002/sce

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