Why Zenith Education Group Replaced Traditional Lectures with Interactive Nearpod Lectures
By Stuart Vanorny, Academic Technology Consultant at Zenith Education Group
Two years ago, while touring one of our career college campuses, I witnessed students engaging and learning in our physical labs. These labs provide access to numerous tools and machinery pertinent to their field of study. It was evident that while the students enjoyed working with their hands, they disliked being in the classroom. It was at this moment I found my mission: to improve the classroom experience and make it appealing to our career and technical education students.
The Challenge: Make Learning Engaging
Many of our students (and a few instructors) viewed the classroom as a necessary evil, where publisher-created slides filled with bullet points and stock photos were the only way to teach concepts. After that day on campus, the provost challenged me to find a way to replace the staid, stand-and-deliver lectures with active learning strategies. She did not need to ask twice.
The Solution: Nearpod Interactivity
After an exhaustive search for interactive educational technology tools, we settled on Nearpod, which offers a plethora of active learning activities that allow our instructors and students to stay connected and engaged during a lecture.
It is not a reach to say that the Nearpod platform fit our pedagogical needs perfectly. Through a team of experienced individuals, including a faculty subject matter expert, the curriculum dean, and an instructional designer, we were able to add interactivity to our lectures and give students the ability to complete formative assessments in real-time during class. Nearpod provided instructors with the ability to adjust lectures and address any gaps in knowledge.
We also peppered our interactive lectures with rich HTML5 web activities from other platforms. Nearpod is extensible, meaning you do not have to give up the other tools you love. You can integrate them into Nearpod.
The Pilot: Nearpod + iPads
Before introducing it across all our campuses, we piloted lectures in our Medical Assistant (MA) program. Here students learn the skills and knowledge required to provide high-quality patient healthcare in a clinical setting. These classrooms split time between a lab and a lecture room.
Working with the MA faculty and the curriculum dean, the instructional design team spent three months planning the rollout. This included creating more than 60 interactive lectures in Nearpod, and developing a training program to ensure all our MA instructors were well versed using Nearpod before introducing it to students.
We purchased iPads, which would host the Nearpod software, and provided them to students and instructors. We made sure to include an attachable keyboard case with each iPad, enabling users to type sentences, not just tap their screens. Finally, we outfitted each MA classroom with an 80-inch TV, an Apple TV to mirror the instructor’s iPad on that TV, and a charging cart to make sure the iPads were always ready to use.
The Results: Success for Students and Instructors
The pilot lasted five months and was a smashing success! Not only did the students and instructors tell us that they loved the interactive lectures, the data backed it up. Across our three campuses, the students’ overall A-C rate (that’s the number of As, Bs, and Cs that each student received) increased an entire percentage point from 92.17% to 93.68%! Of the 83 students who completed the end-of-pilot survey, 91% recommended we replace the traditional lectures and continue with interactive lectures. To top it off, every single one of our MA instructors told us they wanted to continue with the interactive lectures using Nearpod.
It was clear that the Nearpod had revolutionized our MA lectures, and it was time to expand the offering to our other programs.
The Future: Expand the Interactivity Revolution
Fast forward to today. Altierus Career College will soon be providing Nearpod to students enrolled in a majority of our programs offered across our campuses. The integration of Nearpod has helped to transform our classrooms, and we expect that it will positively affect the overall success of Altierus Career College and our students.
Stuart is dedicated to helping under-served populations and has extensive experience in the education, corporate, and non-profit sectors, including senior leadership in Fortune 500 firms and innovative educational technology initiatives. He specializes in ideating and implementing large-scale educational technology projects. Stuart was elected to the Woodridge 68 Board of Education.