Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Kahoot! - An engaging, effective, and competitive classroom response system!

I tried out Kahoot (GetKahoot.com) for the first time today in all five of my classes and am thoroughly impressed.  Even though it's the end of the year, I highly suggest giving it a try.  In fact, it may be a great way to engage the kids who are tired and ready for summer.

I originally heard of Kahoot! from Garrett Kerr (@KerrentTech) at CUE this year and it got put on the backburner of everything else going on.  I'm glad I had time this weekend to finally check it out.  It's a game changer!

So, here's what I did... and what you can do to get started, too (it's pretty intuitive and user-friendly, but I thought it would be helpful to create a tutorial anyways):

**For some reason the images now don't show up so I have just deleted them all since I don't have the time to re-create all my screenshots.  Sorry :(**

1. Create a free account at GetKahoot.com

2. Choose between making a quiz, a survey, or a discussion.  I made both a survey and then lots of quizzes.  (I'm still not sure on the purpose of the discussion as you can only ask one question and it seems like it's just another way for students to selected pre-given answers, which could be like a survey or quiz...)

3. Give your Kahoot! a name

4. Start adding questions

5. Once you have followed the steps and edited your Kahoot! to your heart's content (which you can always go back and edit later very easily), you are ready to PLAY!

6. Launch the game and get ready for students to join in!

7. Students enter the class and join the Kahoot!

8. The game begins... Timer counts down.  Student responses come in and you see the # of students who have responded.  Once they respond, the color/shape they chose will remain on their screen until the question time is over. 

9. See the results as a class!  Students will get notified on their screen if they got it right or wrong, how many kahoots they got, and who they are behind.

10. Between every round and at the end of the game, it will show a scoreboard before moving on to the next question.

11. After the quiz, students have the opportunity to "rate" the quiz and give you feedback. 


Feedback from students:
  • At the end of the activity, I told them "this was basically just like doing your 5 practice problems for the day, what was different about it that made you enjoy it so much?"
    • It feels more fun. 
    • It's interactive. 
    • It's competitive. 
    • It's challenging.
    • It's hands on. 
    • They like being timed; it gives them the pressure and motivation to get it done
  • From a teacher perspective, they were engaged and involved.  There was excitement and passion in the room.  Students wanted to get the correct answer and wanted to get it quickly!  They liked seeing who they were right behind and trying to get on the top 5 leaderboard.
My thoughts (pros)

  • I LOVE the results that you get at the end.  You can do so much with it because you can see exactly what students answered certain problems incorrectly.  It is a great tool for true formative assessment and supporting students.  You can download them as an excel file.  They come pre-color coded, but you can do more sorting if wanted.  It sorts the students by their score, so you can easily see the top students from the bottom ones and pick out the questions with the most wrong answers.
  • I like the students have the ability to rate each Kahoot! at the end.  It gives them a sense of ownership and gives you some immediate feedback on how much they enjoyed it.  It was funny to see the difference in ratings among two different Kahoots I did in the same class - one that required less paper/pencil work (more fast/fact oriented) and the one that students actually had to do some thinking and written work.  Not surprisingly, the second one still had good ratings, but it wasn't quite as "fun" as the other one, comparatively.
  • After the correct answer is shown, students have a very clear bright green or bright orange/red screen.  If I want more feedback than just what the bar graph shows me, I had them hold up their phones so I could scan the room.  A few times, if it was about 50/50, I would have the students with "green screens" get up and find a student with an orange screen to help. This was a great modification of "peer instruction" and allowed students to collaborate and communicate with those around them.
  • I love the music.  It is fun to have the music as students are entering, and the music during each problem created a sense of urgency.  Some students said it made them "stress" a little, but I think that was a good thing because it make them work under a little bit of pressure.  You can always mute it, too. 
  • I noticed that there is an app in the Google Play store, and for Apple devices you can just add a bookmark to the home screen for easy access.  I will be doing that on my class iPods and suggesting to the students to do the same.
My thoughts (suggestions for improvements or what I would like to see changed)
  • My biggest student complaint was, "Oh crap, I accidentally touched the screen! That's not the answer I wanted!"  Or, they were trying to respond so fast they hit the wrong one.  It would be nice to have the option of allowing students one "go-back" to resubmit (like an option a teacher could either turn on or off with each quiz).   Another idea is to have a "confirm answer" button so they have to click it TWICE before it actually submits.
  • It would be nice to have more options for the timer, even just letting the user choose exactly how much time they want.  Some of the harder math problems I wanted to give my students 3 or more minutes for, so I ended up just setting it as 120 seconds, and then reading off the question for them to work on for a minute before starting the timer.
  • This may have just been my internet connection, but sometimes the image (which in my case was the actual problem) would take 5 seconds to load up. This made the students lose time working.  I solved this by always just reading the problem to them first and then starting the timer, having the image load up a few seconds later with the problem and answer choices.
  • Because of the "mathtype", I just had the answer choices within the question instead of below on the screen next to the shapes.  Students said they wish the answers were right there next to the shapes (even though they were only a few inches away).  I told them there wasn't anything I could do since typing the math answers would not be pretty or comprehensible.  It would be nice if the answer choices could also be images themselves as well, so I could put math answers in there.  I could see how this could help in other subject areas as well when a teacher wants to put up four images (four places in history, pieces of art, parts of the body, etc) and the student has to choose which one it is.
  • If the students don't touch their phone/iPod screen, it will shut off (changes I am making is suggesting to students to change their settings when they walk into class to "never" shut off the screen).  Unfortunately, this locks them out of the game and they must sign back in with the code.  Sometimes it allowed the students in right away to join in with the current question, whereas other times it locked them out and didn't let them participate until the next question.  I'm not sure why it happened different ways with different students.  This was disappointing for some students who had the right answer and then weren't able to add points to their score.
My thoughts for the future...
  • The multiple choice quizzes only allow for up to four answers.  I understand why - that is what shows up best on the student's screen.  However, I would like to be able to have an option that says "Stuck" and/or "Not enough time" (for them to click in the last 5 seconds).  That would give me better feedback rather than some students just randomly clicking a choice.  Giving only 2 multiple choice answers and then those 2 wouldn't be great (50/50 shot), so for now I will just stick with giving the 4 choices and telling the students not to answer if they didn't get one of the four choices.
  • I started this in 4th period today, but students had to turn in the associated work with the problems.  I noticed in 1st period some students basically just trying to do the work in their head and then just guessing.  By having them turn in a paper with their work (whether or not I actually look at it...), it holds them accountable for their participation and focus.
  • I am definitely going to use this with peer instruction rather than hand-raising.  The fact that students can't change their answer and if they had the wrong answer their phone shows ORANGE/RED and they can't change that helps.
  • I didn't really have any issues with students making fake or "nickname" names when signing in, except in one class.  I didn't give them any training beforehand and had them all signing in as they walked in not really knowing what was going on.  Obviously in the future, I would go over this a little more structured and wouldn't have the issue.  The nice thing is how easy it is to "remove" the students and just make them sign in again.  Once I told the few students that they had to use their real name, it wasn't an issue.

So, those are my thoughts and feedback after one day of Kahoot.  I will be using it a few more times this week and asking my students how they feel about it after getting used to it a bit more and working out some of the kinks. 

Thoughts, Suggestions, or Feedback?  Please comment.  Have you used Kahoot! in your classroom?  If so, how has it gone?

I encourage you to give it a try before summer... definitely worth it!


  1. My middle school students LOVE Kahoot! I use it for test reviews, but I can see other possible uses for it, too.

    1. I don't know why I waited so long to try it. My students just used their phones or my class iPods (I only have 14, but that was plenty even in classes of 33-37).
      I see it working really well for reviews but I also liked how I could do a form of peer instruction with it. I think it would be a great tool for my "WSQ chats" when students come into class to see how much they understood the video lesson before jumping into the lesson. Lots of potential!

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Hey Crystal,

    Just to introduce myself, I'm Jamie Brooker, Co-founder & Lead designer of Kahoot!

    Firstly, thanks for writing such an in-depth article! It must've taken a while, we hugely appreciate you helping us spread the word :)

    Secondly, thanks for your amazing insights - we really value these as they help shape our product development going forward. It's still early days for us, and there's a lot more to come. So stay tuned!

    To address your specific points, a lot of these have been raised on our suggestion forums and it would be great if you could comment/vote on each (and perhaps add any others). We're always listening, so any additional insights would be great!

    Changing answers - https://kahoot.uservoice.com/forums/181012-general/suggestions/5675492-permitting-students-to-change-their-answers-perha - I really like your "confirm" idea, and this could become an advanced option teachers can turn on.

    More time - https://kahoot.uservoice.com/forums/181012-general/suggestions/5916104-extend-the-maximum-time-to-complete-a-questions-to - whilst the time-factor is one of the key "ingredients" in the engagement a game-based approach creates, we understand that for certain subjects and concepts, more time may be needed!

    Adding images to answer options - https://kahoot.uservoice.com/forums/181012-general/suggestions/5040533-i-would-love-to-be-able-to-add-images-in-the-answe - re: math type, do you find that our subscript, superscript and special character inserts aren't enough for the complexity of your equations? If so, I'd love to see an example!

    Unfortunately, every device type reacts differently to a "real-time" web application like Kahoot! when it goes to sleep, so it's a bit beyond our control - the best thing to do is as you say, ensure their settings are set to not sleep. How Kahoot! reacts to students re-joining depends at which point they re-join: if a question has started, they must wait til the next question.

    I love the "I'm stuck" idea! Please add it to our suggestion forums. The image delay will be related to your internet connection unfortunately.

    I'm not sure if you read about our "Learners to leaders" pedagogy? More here: http://blog.getkahoot.com/post/49502843173/from-learners-to-leaders-with-the-kahoot-pedagogy and here: http://blog.getkahoot.com/tagged/pedagogy - this is where the ultimate peer-led learning occurs, with students taking on the teacher role to share their knowledge through Kahoot! Would love to hear how you find it if you adopt this approach.

    And, finally, you may be interested in some of our research. You can find out more here: https://kahoot.uservoice.com/knowledgebase/articles/287526-why-don-t-the-questions-and-answers-appear-on-the and here: http://blog.getkahoot.com/tagged/research

    Thanks again, and sorry this has turned into quite a large reply! Let us know if there's anything we can do to help.


    PS - I think it's great you ask your students to hold up their devices after a question! I've not heard of that happening before (although am sure it does). Must really help with getting an overview of understanding there-and-then on specific concepts.

    1. Hi Jamie,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to reply in such detail! I will definitely be checking out the suggestion forums, and thank you for providing me with the direct links. I love what you guys are doing and the potential for Kahoot! in the classroom. I'm excited to try it out again today and see how the students do now that they have a day under their belt already.

      Thanks again!

  3. How does this use of the app reinforce status in your classroom? How do the kids who struggle to do mathematics quickly feel after this forced competition? How does this application give students individual, personalized feedback on what they understand or do not understand? How does this app support students in talking about mathematics with each other and learning from their mistakes in a supportive, caring classroom environment?

    If you are the kid who is always at the bottom of the ranking, how do you feel?

    1. Hi David,
      Thanks for comment. You ask some great questions, although I am a little confused by the intention of your post and the nature of your questions. With that, I will assume the best intentions and answer to the best of my ability. As this post states, I am a very beginning user of Kahoot! but have really enjoyed what I have seen the last two days. Like most products, it is not a perfect system, but as an educator you weigh out the benefits and make decisions based on supporting your students best.

      There are several different ways you can use the app in your classroom, one of which is to get feedback from students in a "survey" manner. I did this to ask my students to rank themselves on how they felt on certain topics on a scale of 1-4. We have done this in class before by either raise of hands or by holding a number in front of them, but this gave them the ability to answer anonymously and then for me to easily analyze the overall feedback. With the spreadsheet of results I am given, I can then privately look at the students who feel they are struggling with certain concepts and provide them additional support. When asked to simply raise their hand, a lot of students won't admit that they are struggling. This provides a great alternative.

      Like any good technology tool, the power is not in the tool but in the effective lesson design of the teacher and utilizing the tool to help reach the learning goals. In my short time using Kahoot! I have integrated it with Peer Instruction, where after the results go up, the students with "green screens" find someone with an "orange screen" and sits down with them for a few minutes to go over the problem and explain the mistakes.

      I also have done it where the first problem or two are NOT for the points/leaderboard, but are used as a practice and self-assessment tool. They are still timed so there is that pressure to focus and "test" yourself, but with the intention of going over it as a class after a certain amount of time and struggle.

      You can also modify the use so students are working in collaborative partners, which would lead to more discussion and would also help support students who are struggling. Then students could compete "as a team".

      Another idea is to give the students the problems ahead of time, either individually, in partners, or in small groups. They have a certain amount of class time to work on the problems. The puprose of Kahoot! then would be for students to submit their answers (something like 20 seconds to submit for each question) as a great way to go over the answers, collect feedback, and provide great data for the teacher in terms of what to focus on and with what students.
      (comment continued; there is a length limit!)


    2. I think healthy competition in a classroom is a great thing. It gets students motivated and excited. It keeps them engaged in the learning, even when the problems are the same ones they could just be doing sitting in their groups - the fact that they are timed and have the chance to "win" makes them want to focus and do it better. Even my lowest students want to play and try their best. There are a lot of ways as a teacher to effectively modify the design of the lesson to keep the same students from always falling to the bottom (examples above). It also motivates some of the lower students come in and get that extra outside support they need in tutoring because they don't WANT to fall to the bottom.

      In addition, sometimes students need a real-world reality check of where they stand as a way to either motivate or pressure them to improve. In life, if I was always told I was the top or that "everyone's a winner", that would not motivate me to think and change things I do to become better/smarter/faster.

      I hope that gives you some more ideas. Thank you for the opportunity to think through some of the other ways I think Kahoot! can be used effectively in a classroom. I am excited to try out some of the ideas I posted about in this comment.

      How have you used Kahoot! in your classroom? What have your experiences been? Do you have any other ideas of how to effectively use this tool to help support your students?


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