In the early days of COVID-19 schools, like everyone else, were struggling to figure out how to adapt to pandemic life. With kids out of the building, instruction could not continue as normal. Most of them quickly came to the conclusion that work packets and textbooks were not enough. Thus began e-learning. As teachers began to migrate their instruction online, they were forced to find effective ways to deliver content. Zoom helped, but it wasn’t the end all be all. It had no educational features. Google Classroom was great for quizzes and grading but not really teaching. Enter the online platforms. There are hundreds of sites that aim to be lesson delivery platforms. I experimented with three of them, so you don’t have to.
Edpuzzle is a site that allows you to create and post videos. The main educational feature of the site is the ability to embed questions. The questions can be multiple choice or short answer. Depending on what kind of question you pick, the site can even grade student answers. The site syncs great with Google classroom. There is also content already on the site available to use.
Teachers can guide a class through a lesson or students can navigate through it on their own.
Edpuzzle was great for lessons where I was not concerned about a student’s thought process. However, it does not really allow students to show their work which for subjects like math is hard.
Edpuzzle is mostly free but has a paid version which I found worth it.
Classkick is best thought of as a virtual work packet. Teachers can create a set of pages or even upload an existing PDF that they might have used as a hard copy. Once uploaded students can type, write, draw, or even copy and paste all on their own individual copies of the work. As a teacher, you can see everyone’s work, and you can also write on everyone’s page simultaneously which is great for explaining how to do a problem.
For example, in math class we would put the example problems on pages 1 and 2 and then the student practice on the latter pages. When I solved the problem on page 1, every student in the class could see it on their packet. When they do their own problems, they have the ability to show their work. There is also marginal support for grading, but again it depends on what kind of question you ask.
It was not easy to set up support for two teachers in one class though.
Classkick is free but my school purchased the paid Pro version. (I didn’t notice a difference on my end.)
Nearpod is essentially Google slides for instruction on steroids. You can create slideshows, or upload slide shows you have already made, but it is more than that. You can add questions, videos, questions to the videos, polls, short answers, and a host of other activities within the slides. Students can go through these slides with their class or on their own.
The customization of the slides and activities is made even better by the fact that the site will keep track of answers. It isn’t the best for showing work, but it does allow students to answer questions early and often.
Nearpod has paid and free versions. Both are great, but I did upgrade to the paid version. (And wrote it off on my taxes)
I wouldn’t consider any of these sites direct competitors to each other. They are all different. Edpuzzle is mostly a video platform. Classkick tries to simulate paper and pencil. Nearpod is Google slides for instruction. Your content and individual style matter a lot when choosing a platform to use. When kids were all at home, I used a lot of Edpuzzle. As kids started coming back, I used Classkick … but only for math. For social studies, I found Nearpod to be more useful. Next year as primarily an in person history teacher, I will spend most of my time on Nearpod. You can’t go wrong with any of them but all of them have a learning curve so you will want to play around with them prior to use.