May 2017 (Volume 67, Issue 3)
By Max Krieger and Eric Zhu, Staff Writers
World language, history, and even math students are probably familiar with Kahoot. For the past few years, it’s been a favorite review game for teachers and students. Students use their smartphones to answer timed multiple-choice questions, and race to the top of the projected leaderboard to the beat of funky music. When the timer runs out, a gong sounds, leaving the class in groans and victory cries. Your staff writers decided to take a closer look at the effects of this now-ubiquitous classroom tool.
Choosing A Name
Choosing a nickname is a sacred process for Kahoot-ers. You could use your real first name, or take the attention-seeking route and write in a celebrity, an object in the room, or a sequence of emojis that work on the aging school laptops (fear the empty white box that should be a smiling clown). The anonymity of Kahoot often provides a cathartic space for self-expression, where making one’s name visible on the leaderboard becomes a task that suddenly makes mastery of the curriculum an immediate priority. “It really gives you motivation to try to get better,” noted one Latin student and Kahoot-er.
Learning From The Game
We interviewed Magistra Downey, a Latin teacher, and Madame Bashir, a French teacher, to find their perspectives on Kahoot. Generally, both teachers rely on Kahoot heavily to help students review vocabulary and grammar.
“It gets kids really engaged,” remarked Madame Bashir, perhaps referring to the aforementioned leaderboard hysteria. For Madame Bashir’s French classes, Kahoot is a tool that gives her insight into how students are collectively understanding the material. The game shows how many students answered a given question correctly, a rough but useful barometer for the class’s confidence level in the unit.
However, Kahoot isn’t always perfect in the eyes of the language teachers. “It’s only effective if the students participate,” Magistra Downey explained. To Magistra Downey, Kahoot is really just another tool in the review toolbox that is “not necessarily better” than the analog counterparts. The system of Kahoot also isn’t a comprehensive way for the class to review material. One of the fundamental flaws of the game is that it doesn’t allow for individualized feedback for students, and those who are behind tend to stay behind, according to Madame Bashir.
So what is the future of Kahoot? Madame Bashir proposed Quizlet Live as an “interesting idea” and alternative. A competitor to Kahoot run by the online flashcard giant, the game mechanics differ slightly in that students must work in teams, putting pressure on more students to succeed. The analog precursors to Kahoot haven’t vanished from the classroom either. Magistra Downey’s classes play “Bingus,” the Latin version of Bingo, to review vocabulary for almost every unit.