By Susan Gaer
Gaming is making learning more fun. Game-based learning uses the philosophy of games to engage students in learning. One of the easiest ways to engage in game-based learning is to try a new web resource called Kahoot. Kahoot uses fun music along with points to create a high energy and highly interactive learning environment.
To play Kahoot, your students will need mobile devices, a screen and an active Internet connection. There are two different websites: one is for making games (http://getkahoot.com) and the other is for playing games (http://kahoot.it) The interface is extremely easy to use.
The first step is to get a free account. After you get your free account, log on and you will see the following screen:
There are three types of Kahoots. One is the classic quiz. This is a multiple-choice type of test. Second is the discussion, which allows students to add their opinion on controversial topics, and third is the survey. I use the quiz activity the most often.
There is also a new feature called “Ghost Mode” which allows students to compete against themselves. Think of Ghost Mode as a way to keep practicing the same skill by trying to improve your points. Let’s walk through making a quiz.
This screen is mostly for descriptive information. You must choose a primary audience however to finish the game. You can put in an optional cover image or video for the students to watch as everyone is entering the game. Click “Save & Continue” and you are ready to play your game!
Playing the Game
Kahoot is ideal to play in teams. Therefore, you only need as many mobile devices as there are groups. I usually have students play in groups of two or three, however almost all of my students bring their own device to class.
First, you start the game. This will give you a unique pin number. This game is made to be used on mobile devices, so there is no app. Students just go to http://www.kahoot.it to play. They will be asked for the pin number and a nickname. As students enter into the game, you will see their names appear. Once the class is “in” the game, you are ready to play. The philosophy and research from The Norwegian University of Science and Technology shows that the interaction and energy level of the game went up only when students were required to look away from their mobile devices. Thus, when playing the game, students are required to look at the screen to see the actual answers. The phone screen only has colors that relate to the answers.
Ways to Use Kahoot with Students
Kahoot has been a success for me at every level of instruction with both ELLs and native speakers of English. It creates such a high energy level of fun competition that I have had students from other classes try to get into my class on days when we play Kahoot. However, I think the real value of Kahoot is that students can easily become game makers. Although students can get their own accounts, I have class accounts. I did this by using Gmail+. You can get one account for your class, for example firstname.lastname@example.org, and then make multiple accounts by putting a plus and number. Google will read these as all one account. For example: email@example.com. The associated password would be “student1”. This is a very easy way to remember passwords and email accounts.
- Play a game of Kahoot with students.
- Divide students into groups of between 3-5. Have students create a five-question quiz on paper using the day’s content. Make sure to walk around helping them with 2-4 distractors.
- Have students log onto http://getkahoot.com
- Have them create a quiz using the information on their papers. Students who finish quickly can be encouraged to add pictures to their game.
- Finally, play the games made and let students adjust the content if necessary.
What makes Kahoot really different from any of the other tools is that students must use the screen in front of them to answer the questions. Neither the answers nor the questions appear on their mobile devices. It’s meant to be used as a game, played live in the classroom. Of course, reports are available and downloadable, and Ghost Mode allows students to replay the same game and beat their own personal best, but the strength of Kahoot is to create an engaging classroom environment. Kahoot fascinates students. I promise you that your students will have a great learning experience playing and making Kahoots!
Susan Gaer is a professor at Santa Ana College School of Continuing Education, one of the largest non-credit programs in the state of California. She has been there since 1994. In addition, she is one of the series consultants for Project Success published by Pearson. Currently, Susan is on the boards of both CATESOL and TESOL. She is also an Academic Senator and a member of the CAI (Common Assessment Initiative) for ESL. She is an avid user of technology and advocates for more use of technology by presenting at conferences both statewide and internationally.