Kahoot, a Norwegian multimedia quiz method that is rapidly gaining traction in schools throughout the United States, is similar to a tv game show mixed with a computer game.
As the game’s host, teachers add a multiple-choice quiz on a subject such as plant life or English grammar. They project one quiz question at a time onto a whiteboard or computer at the front of their classrooms using the Kahoot platform.
On their notebooks, tablets, or smartphones, players normally have 30 seconds to click a response. They win points for making accurate selections and bonus points for clicking quickly.
Kahoot plays a catchy countdown melody throughout the response time, evocative of classic video games such as Monkey Island. When the timer rings, a gong signals the end of the period, and the classroom board automatically tallies the class’s right and incorrect responses. Following that, a leaderboard displays the top five students in terms of points earned.
Kahoot’s game-like features and simple-to-use format have contributed to its rise to prominence in the classroom. Around 20 million of the 55 million elementary and secondary school students in the United States used Kahoot last month, the company said.
“It’s enjoyable. Everybody does so. It attracts all children,” Tosh McGaughy, a digital learning specialist with the Birdville Independent School District in Haltom City, Texas, recently told me. “They become competitive and enthusiastic.”
However, it is too early to say if Kahoot would eventually increase student learning or merely serve as edutainment.
“Were they really interested in the material two days after, or at any moment of time when none of the bells and whistles are going off?” Heather Collins, a digital learning researcher and chairwoman of Trident Technical College’s behavioral and social sciences department in Charleston, South Carolina, was questioned.
Kahoot, a variation on the phrase “in collusion,” capitalizes on a variety of current educational developments. One is “engagement,” or the idea that the more students are engaged in an exercise, the more motivated they are to understand. Another is “gamification,” the process of adapting gaming features to non-game contexts.
“It’s a straightforward game-show format,” Kahoot CEO Johan Brand said in a phone interview.
The spoonful-of-sugar method of learning can be extended to any topic. “As a company, we have little interest in what they are teaching,” he said. “We are involved in their game.”
And several students are playing for the win, partially by pace competitions.
“They believe the cellphone is faster,” Ms. McGaughy, an expert in interactive learning, said. “As a result, the competitive children use the phone.”
Additionally, the web lends itself to social media. Students are now sharing their Kahoot rating on social media — or messaging it in groups — even though they do not place first.
Here is a tweet from a student using the handle @beansalaad: “I ended fifth out of 22 players in the @GetKahoot quiz ‘How does the Constitution uphold freedom of expression?’ with 4,754 points!”
However, the relentless rivalry and quantification can be disconcerting.
“Some people thrive on being graded, earning marks, and achieving status,” explains Neil Selwyn, an education professor at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, who studies how schools utilize technology. “However, I’m sure not every student can find it appealing in the same way.”
Mr. Brand created Kahoot in 2012 with two colleagues as a digital marketing and experience designer. Since then, it has earned about $6.5 million from its own staff, the Norwegian Research Council, and Northzone, a venture capital company that was one of the early investors in Spotify, the online music provider. The creators first targeted the American school industry for the app, launching it in 2013.
Readers who attended school prior to the invention of the personal computer can recall playing classroom games like multiplication bingo, an offline activity in which students earn recognition or awards for memorizing their times tables the fastest. Students will also use Ascend Math, a learning app that honors students for successfully completing a level while allowing them to play brief video games.
Of course, including ice cream, points, bells, video game leaderboards, and a variety of other brain sensations may become habit-forming. That does not mean they are beneficial to students.
“If you get an ice cream sundae every day after dinner, you can come to anticipate it,” Professor Collins, a learning scholar, said of Kahoot.
a sense of urgency to comprehend their lectures. Additionally, it has them going back for more.
“When we’re studying for tests, my students always ask, ‘Mr. Sullivan, are we Kahooting tomorrow?'” he said. “Kahooting is now a recognized term.”