We’ve all been there; it’s a nightmare scenario: your teacher, threatening as a T. Rex, sweeping down the aisle with a pile of red-splotched tests. What will the all-important grade be? Will you be able to hide it, whatever it is, from your classmates? You shrink in your seat. You blush and groan.

It’s what education expert Mike Rose is talking about in “School Reform Fails the Test.” He quotes a beleaguered teacher: “There is no joy here…only admonishment.” With more testing every day as teachers struggle to meet onerous government standards, all the joy is being removed from the learning process.

That’s why I’m happy some kids get to take quizzes using Kahoot!

Kahoot! is a platform that transforms quizzes into game shows. That’s right. Teachers who use Kahoot! morph into Alex Trebeks; kids who take Kahoot! quizzes morph into TV stars. Or at least that’s how it feels.

How Kahoot! Works

It’s pretty easy. First you create a free account on the GetKahoot.com website, and then you can start creating quizzes.  If you’re not already a teacher, you might have to practice writing good questions, but the mechanics of creating the quiz are simple. You type the questions in and upload images (or video) for each question, and then save the quiz to your account. When you’re ready to give the quiz, you tell the quiz takers to take out their smartphones, laptops, or tablets. Then they go to Kahoot.it, enter the code assigned to the quiz, and enter a nickname, and just like that the group is participating in a game instead of  taking a quiz…Actually, they are taking a quiz, of course, but it doesn’t feel like a test. They get feedback right away. The suspenseful music plays, the colorful images appear. If you don’t get the question right, it’s not the end of the world. Learning is fun again.

You can imagine how useful this is in classrooms. Check out these happy campers.

The Pixelkin Test: A Quiz About Video Games

Recently, we got inspired and made our own quiz about video games. Can you tell we had a lot of fun doing this? (If you want to try your hand at our quiz before you watch, you can go here.)

How Teachers and Others Are Using Kahoot!

Teachers are getting really creative with Kahoot! Students are matched up in teams. Quizzes are shared. Students make quizzes for each other. It all seems to bring joy. The education blog Come On Get Appy points out that “It will get loud in the classroom, but it’s the kind of loud you want—engaged-in-learning-loud!”

The Kahoot! website gives users access to more than a million public quizzes, which cover everything from “Nanoteknologi” (in Norwegian) to “Sexual & Asexual Reproduction.” You can search for quizzes by keyword or type of audience, such as “school” and “social.” After you take a public quiz, you get a chance to rate it. Teachers can preview public quizzes and use them in their classrooms or make their own public or private quizzes.

On the Kahoot! website there are a bunch of stories about how people are using the platform. Daniella Latham, a Kahoot! spokesperson, cites a few of the Kahoot! team’s favorites: “I particularly like when users play Connected Kahoots—so, classes in different places (even different countries) play Kahoots together using a screensharing facility. For example, schools in Alabama and California recently played a Kahoot together and tweeted us about it. There is also this example of a teacher connecting classes in the U.S. and South Africa through Kahoot! A member of the Kahoot! team also joined in a Kahoot in the U.S., which made for a nice story.”

Another way to use Kahoot! is with larger crowds at events. Although the platform wasn’t really designed for huge groups, the Kahoot! website offers suggestions on how to make it work, and there are a whole bunch of downloadable support materials, like guides and free T-shirt and sticker designs.  The biggest Kahoot! in the world took place at an educational technology conference and had more than 1,000 participants.

Kahoot t shirt designs

You can download designs and make your own t-shirts for your event.

The Kahoot! Team

Kahoot! was based on the research of Professor Alf Inge Wang at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The platform was developed by a team of user-experience experts at We Are Human, including Johan Brand and Jamie Brooker. The team says Kahoot! isn’t exactly a social media tool, but they hope it will be used to share information: “Our ethos and vision is that people all around the world should share their exceptional educational content for others to play in classrooms globally.”

“The platform is growing super fast,” said Daniella Latham. “We hit 25 million unique Kahoot! users at the end of January. This is up from 20 million users just a month earlier and 300,000 users this time last year.” In the first week of February alone, Latham added, the user base increased by 1.5 million.

The plaform is free right now. “It’s important to us that it is [free] for a while,” Latham said. “Future players, however, will pay for value-added, premium services such as data reports or more advanced creator and editor tools.”

Kahoot! & the Joy of Learning

When I was a kid, there were no internets. There were no mobile phones. And in school, there was no Kahoot! Education experts are recognizing the tyranny of testing, and I hope the pendulum swings back sometime soon to emphasize testing less.

In the meantime, I’m glad kids—and the rest of us—have platforms like Kahoot! to help make learning fun.

This article was written by

Linda learned to play video games as a way to connect with her teenaged kids, and then she learned to love video games for their own sake. At Pixelkin she wrangles the business & management side of things, writes posts as often as she can, reaches out on the social media, and does the occasional panel or talk. She lives in Seattle, where she writes, studies, plays video games, spends time with her family, consumes vast quantities of science fiction, and looks after her small cockapoo. She loves to hear from people out there. You can read more about her at her website, Linda Breneman.com or her family foundation's website, ludusproject.org.