Games are fun. Quizzes are not. But games can make quizzes more fun. That’s what I have learned by experimenting with the Kahoot, an interactive learning game, in my REL 130: Religion, Politics, and Law course.
I discovered Kahoot during the Teaching Professor Technology Conference a few weeks ago. It is an online game that students can play with whatever device they have handy in class. The instructor builds a Kahoot by writing series of multiple-choice questions and answers (complete with images or videos when necessary). When it’s time to play in class the instructor launches Kahoot on the main screen of the classroom multimedia system. Students pull up a simple URL and punch in a short numerical code to join the game. And then the fun begins!
Students win points for correctly answering questions and get more points for answering faster or going on a streak of correct answers. After each question, the game flashes a scoreboard featuring the leading contestants in the game. At the end of the game, the scoreboard declares a winner. In my class, I gave the winner a sweet Department of Religious Studies coffee mug.
I like Kahoot because it solved a problem for me—the review day. I like giving students a day in class to catch their breath and review the course material before they take one of the four quizzes in the course. In the past, I have made these review days an open-ended question and answer. Students ask me questions about what they are confused or unclear on and I try to go back over it again. But that rarely takes the entire 75 minutes of a class period.
I still did that open-ended Q&A in class last week, but I also made a Kahoot that reviewed the important topics from that unit’s material. This did three things. One, it helped students see what I thought was important from the course thus far. Two, it gave them a chance to see things that they didn’t even know they didn’t know. For example, a question on the difference between “confessional pluralism” and “structural pluralism” stumped a number of students who didn’t realize they had forgotten those two terms. Lastly, the results from the game (which the instructor can download and peruse after the game) allowed me to see which questions a lot of students missed. I could then see if it was a confusing question or if I needed to review that idea or encourage them to look back at that particular concept.
Kahoot has a ton of features and can be used in lots of ways. It’s a fun and active learning tool that I encourage instructors to experiment with.
Michael J. Altman is an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies.