Nearpod and Pear Deck: What is the difference?
When presenting at different edtech conferences, or in conversations at edcamps, I am often asked what makes Nearpod different than PearDeck. We know there are many great digital tools available that open up the spaces and time for students to learn. Lessons become more interactive, students can work on them in or out of class, blended learning is facilitated easier with tools like these. So what are the similarities and differences between them? Both offer many options, that it truly can come down to a personal preference or comfort level.
Both Nearpod and Pear Deck offer a variety of question types and activities as ways to assess students, but more importantly, these tools help to increase student engagement and expand where and when students learn. Both tools offer free as well as paid versions. Through Nearpod, all question types are available in the free version (Open Ended, Polls, Quiz, Draw, and Collaborate), as well the ability to add an activity “on the fly”, whereas in Pear Deck, only three types of questions are available in the free version (Multiple Choice, Numbers and Text). For reports, all are accessible through the free version of Nearpod, however with Pear Deck, the “session review” is only available with the paid version. Some of the additional features available through Nearpod make it distinct in comparison with Pear Deck.
Nearpod enables students to experience Virtual Reality (VR), by interacting with 3D shapes or going on a Virtual Field Trip,powered by 360 cities, right from the classroom. This immersive capability promotes global knowledge, expanding student comprehension of different perspectives and allows students to become immersed in new environments. Nearpod continues to add new features, most recently, “Collaborate” an interactive brainstorming tool where teachers and students can share posts and images, such as a quick reflection or a more engaging way to have a discussion during a live session. The posts can be “liked” by students and are sortable by the teacher. In Nearpod student notes, students can annotate the Nearpod lesson and have their notes and responses saved to a Google document or a PDF, in the Nearpod School and District subscriptions.
Pear Deck has some distinct features as well (available in the premium accounts) that can be added when creating a deck, as part of the “slides.” Through a unique question type named “DraggableTM ” students can place dots onto images for various purposes. For example, using “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” students can place a dot as to whether they understand the material, draw dots on a map or a graph, and then the teacher can cast all responses on the screen, without showing the name of each student. Individual responses can be highlighted separately when projected on the screen, still without showing student names. Another feature in Pear Deck is the ability to lock student screens, so that a student cannot change an answer. In terms of assessments, this is a nice feature to have, to help in the area of academic integrity. Some of the “add-ons” available in the premium account are the “takeaways” from sessions, with student responses, which can then be published to a Google Document, students can then review, and the document goes to the Google Drive.
Creating a lesson and presenting it “live” in class, assigning it for homework or a “student paced session”, can be done with both of these tools, although the manner of creating the lessons differs in how you add slides and the types of content. Both tools work with Google Classroom, Nearpod also integrates with Schoology and Canvas. Both platforms can be accessed on any device from the web, and Nearpod has native apps for iOS and Android operating systems. With Nearpod, links can be shared to have students access the lesson as well. With Pear Deck, students log in using a Join Code or directly through Google Classroom and access it through Chromebooks or the Chrome add on through the web. It is available for use on all devices. Teachers can facilitate lessons in class or as student paced rather easily with either tool, but there are more options available within Nearpod at the free level.
Nearpod has the edge with its library of thousands of lessons for different content areas and grade levels, ready for free download and customization. In Pear Deck’s “Orchard”, there are a few free sample decks available to download and copy to your Drive, and introductory decks are available to learn how to create your own lessons. The Pear Deck Orchard does not appear to offer as many lessons as does Nearpod’s library.
Both Nearpod and Pear Deck integrate with Google Classroom. Nearpod also integrates with Canvas and Schoology, and offers the ability to “upload files” from OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and the computer. Pear Deck offers the ability to import class rosters directly from Google Classroom. Powerpoints can be uploaded for free with Nearpod, whereas this capability is a paid featured with Pear Deck.
Each tool offers many options for enhancing student learning and provides diverse methods of assessing students and delivering content. They each offer websites full of information to help educators get started creating lessons. There are a range of features within each tool, however for someone looking for more interactive lessons in and out of the classroom, or ready-made digital lessons, Nearpod has the edge with its library full of lessons on different content areas and levels.And for opportunities to engage students in learning, promote active learning and exploration, and assess students through multiple methods, Nearpod also edges Pear Deck in this, as there are more options available in the free version. Pear Deck offers some distinct features especially if you are in a Google Classroom. The session takeaways and reviews with comments are a great way to involve students in self-assessments.
When it comes down to it, the decision has to be made based on what’s best for your students and your classroom. Either way, offering new ways for students to be engaged in learning is win-win.