In the previous article, I compared Moodle’s native quiz feature with quizzes created with H5P, concluding tht the former is better for assessed quizes and the latter for self-study materials. Neither, though, is well suited to interactive, real-time in-class activities, which is what I want to look at now. In this post, I’ll look at Kahoot, which is probably the most popular in-class quiz tool at the moment.
I first encountered Kahoot when a student in a course I was teaching about games used it her presentation. This was quite clever considering that the topic was gamification and Kahoot is simply a gamified quiz. As I pointed out in that course, you could take the questions from a Kahoot quiz and distribute them on photocopies, and you’d have a dull, old-fashioned mutliple choice test. What Kahoot does brilliantly is turn it into a very simple computer game with a slightly retro aesthetic. To a generation that grew up playing console games, this is catnip – I think the only time students participated more enthusiastically was when I had them get up and play physical games (something I misss in my new role as learning technologist). This has led to the ironic situation of mutliple-choice quizzes, which were once disparaged as part of the old “regurgitating information” modle of education, being cool again.
It’s worth taking a look at how this gamification is done. Kahoot has very simple game dynamics: you answer questions and compete with other players. In that respect, it’s no different from a pub quiz. The game mechanics are also very familiar: points, leaderboards and timers. The genius comes with the game aesthetics: Kahoot has bright colours, catchy graphics and wonderful ’80s-style computer game music, all of which trigger the play response in a way that doing the same quiz on paper would not. If you opt for one of the paid plans, you get more gamification alternatives, with players building towers or conquering territory.
Kahoot’s main advantage, then, is its enjoyability, but another major point in its favour is ease of use. Kahoots are easy to create compared to most quiz methods, and they are very easy for students to log into. Kahoot is as phone-friendly as you can get, with students only needing to tap a brightly-coloured symbol while all the information is on the projector (though of course if you don’t have a projector in class, you’re screwed).
Kahoot’s strength is its simplicity, but that also give it certain limitations. Compared to some quiz methods (notably H5P), you have a limited range of question types: the free version ony has multiple choice or true/false, though other question types are available with various paid programmes. Although it can be used for polling and brainstorming with some plans, if you are going to go that far, you might consider other tools such as Socrative, Vevox or Nearpod (which I will be looking at in subsequent posts). Similarly, you probably would not want to use Kahoot for a quiz where you want students to reflect carefully, and you definitely would not want to use if for high-stakes summative assessment. Kahoot basically does one thing very well: quick, fun, in-class quizzes.