Neatening Up Your Nearpod with Google Slides

Nearpod is an excellent tool for creating engaging lesson that combine content knowledge with student activities and formative assessment tools.  But it’s not the best tool for building lessons… until now!

As of this summer you’ll find a new button on your Nearpod Homepage that says “Create your own: Lesson in Google Slides”, check it out!

Create Lesson In Google Slides

This is great.  So great.  Because now you don’t have to worry about copying or importing content from Google Slides into Nearpod and ending up with an image that you can’t edit.  Now you can build right in Google Slides and add Nearpod interactive features as you go with the Nearpod Add-on.

Learn more by adding a copy of my Nearpod Transform SLC Google Slide Deck embedded below.

Click here to get a copy of the presentation.

NETA2019: Mixed Reality Presentation

Here’s an opportunity to sample emerging technologies including both augmented reality applications for portable devices and a mix of virtual reality applications. At the end of this session you will be more familiar with the benefits of using 3-D enhanced resources for student engagement and learning.

Join us today (1/23/2019) at 3:30 PM in the Wasatch Room at the 2019 NETA Conference.

uen gpb presenters

Andrew MacCartney, Vice President Education and Digital Media, Georgia Public Broadcasting
Laura Evans, Education Director, Georgia Public Broadcasting
Follow GPB on Twitter – @gpbeducation
Michael Hakkarinen, Instructional Technology Trainer – Utah Education Network
Follow Michael on Twitter – @edtechakk

Join the Public Media XR Creators Facebook Group

gpb virtual fieldtrips
Click here to explore the Georgia Public Media Virtual Field Trips

mixed reality course sign up cardThe “Mixed Reality for Education” in person class will provide educators with a sampling of emerging technologies including both augmented reality applications for portable devices, and a mix of virtual reality applications. By the end of the two day experience each participant will have learned the benefits of using 3-D enhanced resources to engage students. Through this understanding, each participant will also create and share a “redefined” classroom lesson that includes AR and/or VR student experiences.

Click here to learn more about the Mixed Reality for Education course offered by UEN to Utah educators.

Download a PDF Version of our slideshow from this link – mixed reality – neta 2019
mixed reality slideshow

UEN PDTV Episode: VR In the Classroom

UEN PDTV Episode: VR In Higher Education

NearPod & iPads in the Elementary Classroom

Keeping students engaged can be difficult if not impossible.  Perhaps the greatest hurdle for a teacher on a daily basis is to keep your entire class on task, participating, actively thinking and… wait!  Are we off task again?

Oakdale 4th Grade nearpod
4th Graders at Oakdale Elementary (Canyons District) use NearPod to learn about the Native People of Utah.

If you throw a class set of iPads into the mix chances are you’ve just given each student approximately two million more things to distract them while you’re teaching.  Or did you?  Teachers at Willow Springs and Oakdale Elementary schools are finding the app “Nearpod” for iPads does just the opposite.

Nearpod (available for free in the iTunes store and online at is easy to start using.  Although the app is fantastic for iPad users, it’s also available in a web based form at  Try it with a MacBook lab, Chromebooks, or any web based portable device.  As long as you have internet connection you can have an engaging lesson.By using Nearpod you’ll be able to hold their attention and control their screens.  As long as students don’t leave the app, you determine what they see!

Step 1: Go to and click “Create Account”

Step 2: Complete the form fields required for your new free Nearpod account

Step 3: Watch the short “How Nearpod Works” video to get a preview of how your first lesson will run with students.

Step 4: Now that you’re ready to go, browse the Nearpod Content Library available at to find a lesson you can use on your first run of Nearpod.  There are great resources here from LearnZillion, Time4Kids, and more.  Although some resources cost money, there are enough free opportunities for your first few activities.

Step 5:  What are you waiting for?  Fire up your computer or iPad, launch your lesson, and have your students jump in with the unique code that is given at the start of each “NPP”, that’s short for NearPodPresentation.  Although you might want to present your iPad or computer screen for the whole class, you probably don’t have to.  Since all of the content you’ll be sharing will appear on each student’s device, don’t distract them with another big screen.

Step 6:  How did it go?  If you liked it, but think the content library doesn’t have exactly what you need for free, don’t stress.  You can make your own NPPs with PowerPoint and upload them to your web account.  For directions on this check out the great tutorial available from “Making Tech Simple” at

For more info on how to use NearPod, visit the NearPod Community Blog at

Piktochart: Perfect for Preparing Printables and Presentations


Here’s one tool I really enjoy using.  Picktochart

It’s easy, fast, full of beautifully designed templates to help you get started, and serves multiple purposes.  You make a quick informational image, or “pictograph”, to visually display statistical information.  Or a diagram.  Concept map.  There are limitless applications for this simple cloud based design tool.

For my first “Piktochart” I created a diagram to explain the four different ways teachers can communicate and collect students work in Canvas.  Saving it to the web makes it easy to share via link or download as a PNG to embed in a blog or website, as you can see below…


Getting started is easy, especially if you already have a Google or Facebook account.  Create your free account first to make sure you like the tool, later you can “Level Up” for $39.99 per year if you need the advanced features.  Educators – you can get special pricing for the Classroom Pro Plan here.  Personally, I’ve been very happy with the free version, but I’m also not collaborating with other designers or collecting student work.

Create New Piktochart.png

Once you’re ready to give it a shot go to your Piktochart Dashboard and click the create button.  From here you’ll be taken to a new screen where you can choose which product you’d like to create – Infographic, Presentation, or Printable.

Three types of Piktocharts.png

Piktochart Tool Bar MenuWorking in Piktochart is simple. The menu buttons on the left side of the building screen allow you to add shapes and icons, lines, photos and photo frames.  Backgrounds and other images are also easy to import.  Text is added with a simple text box, but with dozens of themes and designs to choose from.  Piktochart also takes all the guess work out of having to pick and choose from different color schemes and fonts, they’ve already picked out what goes together best for you making it easy to build a professional presentation.  You can even add charts, maps, and videos with one click.

Rather than show you all the steps to create such a Piktochart watch this short intro video from the Piktochart Homepage:

Need more help to get started?  Not a problem. Piktochart has a full playlist of tutorial videos you can watch while you build, and they’re all available free at 

Now go get Piktocharting!

Twitter Chat Overload

Participating in an EdChat on Twitter can be a lot like kayaking or mountain biking.  If it’s your first time, you’ll definitely be overwhelmed.  Things move at a very quick pace and trying to take it all in will send you flying over a waterfall or flipping over the handlebars, metaphorically speaking.

If you’re new to Twitter and jump into an EdChat be prepared to let some things go.  Just like shooting down a river in a kayak you’ll need to focus on what is in front of you and try your best not to be distracted by everything going on in your peripheral vision.

Imagine going into a staff meeting at your school and trying to follow all the things going on if everyone talked at the same time!  Impossible.

A twitter chat may seem like this at first.  You’ll see questions and answers filling up your device, Tweetdeck or page faster than you can read.  The nice thing, however, is you don’t have to listen to everything.  You can turn off the noise by only looking at specific people or specific hashtags.  In other words, pick and choose what you want to read and think about – don’t try to do it all!  That would make about as much  sense as trying to identify wildflowers while zooming down a mountain at 30 mph.

Here are a five tips for safely consuming all the incredible information coming at you at warp speed during an EdChat on Twitter:

1.  Don’t jump into the deep end until you learn how to swim!

Believe it or not, you don’t need to have a Twitter account to be on Twitter.  You can easily access a twitter user’s page and tweets by going to the address and then /their name.  For example, all of my tweets can be seen at  It’s also possible to do the same thing to read over tweets that included a hashtag, check out to see what’s been happening with the Utah Ed Chat.

2.  Make it simple and just watch.

If you do have a Twitter account you can try following an Ed Chat by showing up on Twitter at the predetermined time and watching all the tweets fly.  You’ll see tweets appear from the moderator with Q1:, Q2: etc before each question.  Participants will likely respond with A1:, A2:, and so forth.  If you see tweets with ideas you like go ahead and click the star button to favorite these tweets.  That way it will be easy for you to go back and look at your favorites at a later time when the EdChat is over or the pace has slowed down.

3.  When you’re ready to participate try following some of the other participants.

It’s one thing to favorite a few tweets, but you may start to find there are a few Tweeters that you really like.  Follow them!  Don’t be afraid, simply click on their name or icon image.  If you are already following them you’ll see the icon with “Following”, and if not, click it!

4.  Use a tool to help control the pace and stay focused on specific topics.

TweetDeck is simple and free!  Install the app for your Mac or iOS device and then compartmentalize the flood of tweets.  It’s easy to follow a hashtag, specific person, activity, direct messages, etc.

5.  Search previous EdChats to find resources you might have missed.

Many EdChat hosts will use the tool Storify to create an archive of the conversation.  A chat I recently hosted about balancing technology and teaching can be seen at  If a Storify isn’t available you always do a search for the EdChat’s hashtag, like #utedchat, and then go back and read all the tweets that were made with that hashtag.

Now that you have an idea of what to expect and a few tools to use to make it easier to be a part of an EdChat on Twitter, here are a couple you might want to try out:

Utah EdChat = #utedchat

Wednesdays from 9-10 PM Mountain

Full Schedule here:

EdChat = #edchat

Tuesdays from 7-8 AM Eastern

Get more info at

EdTechChat = #edtechchat

Mondays from 8-9 PM Eastern

Hosts and topics are listed at

MDEdChat = #mdedchat

Tuesdays from 8-9 PM Eastern

Archives and info can be found at!mdedchat/c21qz

SATCHAT = #satchat

This one is hard to follow because it’s on Saturdays from 7:30-8:30 AM

Catered to administrators, SatChat is explained in detail in the following Edutopia article:

And for more tips on hosting a Twitter Chat, check out