In Kahoots

For years, educational institutions have bought in various voting systems. You know the ones I mean: they come packed in suitcases with dated-looking voting pads and dongles that require blutooth connectivity and software licences that cost 100 quid a pop. They can take ages to set up (from the quiz author’s perspective) and then take ages to set up (as far as setting up the voting pads, dongles and batteries). They often don’t work, usually because the teacher who wanted to use it had not been given any training in the software required to author their quiz, so the questions didn’t display the right answers, or too many right answers, or no answers at all. And more often than not (in my experience), the dongle doesn’t work or has gone missing or only 5 of the voting pads do work. And as the institution can often only afford one set of voting pads and 2 software licences, only 3 teachers can actually use it BUT they have to book the hardware out 4 months in advance.If that all sounds rather negative, I apologize. But in my defence, I went to a TurningPoint demo once, and the guy showcasing his own company’s system had to abandon the demo after question 3 because the pads failed. So I am not particularly trusting of the effectiveness of these bulky and pricey systems. And that’s why Kahoot is brilliant.  Kahoot is a web based quiz / survey / voting system and its first plus point is that students provide their own voting pads via their smartphone, tablet, laptop or any web enabled device. Students open their device’s browser, go to and are given a PIN number generated specifically for the quiz they are taking part in. They type in the PIN, and are then invited to type in their name or a nickname. Having done this, they are connected to the quiz, and as soon as the required number if players have logged in, the author of the quiz or survey can start.  It may be easier to bullet point my excitement from hereon in:

  • After signing up to a free account, users navigate a very simple interface to set up their survey or quiz. So it’s ‘I only discovered the Internet 6 months ago and I can use it’ easy.
  • Yes – a free account. This costs nothing!
  • Video-based questions add a great visual dimension, and YouTube films can be embedded as simply as copying and pasting their URL to the question’s set-up screen.
  • Points can be allocated for correct answers. I used this feature at a staff development day a few weeks ago and asked participants to break into teams for an after lunch, Kahoot-based ‘pub quiz’. Each team appointed a captain who used their mobile device as the team’s voting pad and gave themselves a pub quiz team name. Good to see people still use ‘Norfolk and Clue’ as a team name, though my favourite will always be: ‘Let’s have a big hand for Jeremy Beadle’…
  • Responses can be downloaded to an Excel spreadsheet. Great for looking for patterns of answers and then gauging whether a question / quiz is too easy or difficult.
After discovering it by chance, I introduced Kahoot at the end of last year to a group of PGCE students. One of these students used it in his ‘beginning research’ session a few weeks ago as an icebreaker (and a sneaky way of introducing qualitative research). I went to the session to provide technical support (there were bandwidth concerns regarding 60+ students using the same broadband connection at the same time), but – and here’s a first – nothing went wrong. Better than that, when the quiz was over the audience let out an audible groan of dissapointment. Better THAN THAT – as I walked out of the lecture theatre, I overheard several incredibly positive comments. That’s why I decided to run with it at the staff development day. That and the fact that I didn’t want to lug 3 suitcases of voting pads down to the town centre. But also, because I wanted the school to see what a cool tool it was and consider using it in their own teaching.
And that they have! I asked one lecturer who went on to use Kahoot with a group of his students if he’d be prepared to send me his students’ responses. He did, and here’s a selection of what they said about using Kahoot for a study day revision quiz:
“Kahoot really helped at the end of the session. It was a really good recap/ revision tool. As there was so much information to remember from the sessions it was good to have a fun reminder at the end rather then just leaving for the day and fogetting half the information it had learnt. I found it a good way to test what I had learnt and the subjects I might need to do some futher reading on to improve my understanding.”
“It was a nice way to end the day and showed us what we remembered from the previous days. And showed what we need to research more into.”
Here’s my favourite, because it links directly to something I believe in completely: that we learn better if we’re enjoying ourselves:
“Yes because it was fun. Fun things are hard to forget!”
Before I sign off, one other thing.  Kahoot is simple, bright, colourful and – yes, I’ll say it – the design is clearly aimed at children and young adults.  This often puts teachers and lecturers in the further and higher education sectors off, as they think that using anything like this with adults could be seen as patronising.  So let me finish up with this one thought: I do not recall signing  agreement as soon as I hit 18 that declared that I was going to forgo anything colourful, bold or simple in favour of turgidity, monochrome and complication.  I do not feel patronised when I watch ‘Scooby Doo’ or ‘Doctor Who’.  I enjoy, among other things, ‘alphabetti spaghetti’ and ‘Freddo Frog’ chocolate bars.  I think that I should be allowed to have fun and be childlike even at my advanced age.  And I think that just about everyone else feels like that too.

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