First, let's break down this highly engaging and helpful edtech tool.
How does it work? Kahoot is a student response system, but looks and feels like a game, especially when participating in a quiz. After you make a Kahoot, you can launch it by projecting it on your screen while students use their devices to enter a game pin and a nickname. Two clever things about this tool from the start. First, no app is necessary; if a device can get to the Internet, they can Kahoot. Second, names can be moderated. If you don't like the name, the teacher can click on it and "kick them out." The offending device changes from a green to a red screen for all to see, but Kahoot will allow the student to try again, although the red screen background remains as a reminder that you might want a chat with the cheeky monkey at the end of class.
Students win Kahoots (points) by answering both accurately and as quickly as possible. The countdown music (faster and more dramatic when the clock time is shorter; you can set the timer uniquely and differently for each question) adds to the excitement, and after each question a leaderboard is shown that displays the top participants ranked by their Kahoot points. In the end, Kahoot declares a winner, and feedback can be elicited by the teacher in a simple interface (score the Kahoot on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, did you learn anything with thumbs up or down, etc.). One of its powerful features is that teachers can download the results of the Kahoot in a surprisingly thorough Excel spreadsheet either immediately or later under your account settings. Oh, did I mention Kahoot is free, and other public Kahoots can be searched and saved for your own use?
Below is a short video by Roland Rios that shows how to make a Kahoot quiz and what gameplay looks like.
As the video says, you can add images to go along with your questions, and adding videos are in beta testing. (Some quirks show up when using videos; for example, you can embed a video to play in the "lobby" while students are signing in, but in Internet Explorer, the sound of the video continues to play even as you begin your quiz.) There is a character editor in both the question and answer fields that give you additional freedoms, such as a math teacher wanting to input formulas and algebraic equations.
I should also mention you can create a Kahoot Discussion (ask a question that can get an initial response, then use that to spin into a classroom talk) or a Survey (ask several poll questions and see and discuss the results). Neither of these allow open responses, and because there are no right or wrong answers, the gaming elements are not present.
How could you use it? The quizzes can be formative assessments, and the data collected is rich and manipulatable for later mining in Excel. The Discussion and Survey Kahoots may not be as game-like as the quizzes, but just like the quizzes, creates data that is stored permanently and can be analyzed at your convenience.
Downsides? It's hard to find one. Other tools like Socrative can also do prepared quizzes or polls, and would be better for quieter, self-paced student work. However, Kahoot is a free and user-friendly tool that creates one of the highest engagement levels I've seen, coupled with a robust data collection that is easy to analyze. (And don't think the gaming appearance would only appeal to younger students, as the Collins anecdotes will attest.) I highly recommend it.
I've had a great positive response when chatting up Kahoot, starting with the PD I gave in Oldham County in August. I shared it with the Collins staff for the first time on Tuesday. By the next day, I was stopped several times by MLC teachers who raved about using it in their classes. (And what a great staff, to be willing to try a new tool less than 24 hours after hearing about it for the first time!)
One of those first-timers was Julie Stacy, who I happened to observe the Wednesday morning after the PD. Not only did she have the class take a Kahoot quiz on Great Expectations, but by the end of the period she had them in groups making their own Kahoots. Bravo for giving the students opportunity for leadership!
Julie Stacy of @MLCTitanNation @shelbycountysch leads her AP Lit class on their first @GetKahoot. Students loved it! pic.twitter.com/pFqsbCpDa6Ms. Fishback is one of several other Collins teachers who used Kahoot, but I have to also give her a shoutout for the great photo she took of her students Kahooting, preserved in a tweet here:
— Adam Watson (@watsonedtech) September 17, 2014
#FishbackPBS tried out #kahootit today with a pop quiz! Thanks @watsonedtech ! pic.twitter.com/p1kFPXvem6You'll definitely hear me do more tech shoutouts from Collins before my embedded time is up. Until then, help me celebrate Ms. Stacy and Ms. Fishback for taking an edtech risk!
— Ms. Fishback (@MsFishback) September 17, 2014