digital quizzing platforms in the classroom

24 January 2018

Author: Gary Burman, e-learning lead, Kingsbridge Community College

“Please Sir can we play another game?”

“No, we need to get on with the rest of the lesson.”

“But I’ve learned more in those 2 games of Kahoot than I have in the last 3 lessons.”

This conversation with a Year 10 GCSE PE student got me thinking; a) is my teaching really that bad or b) do game-based learning platforms such as Kahoot act merely as low-stakes assessments or are they a tool for learning itself?

The whole testing of students is often met with negativity amongst the teaching profession but when it is called “Assessment for Learning” we seem to be more accepting of its place in a teacher’s tool kit.  There are many interactive quiz platforms; ‘Plickers’, ‘Kahoot’ and ‘GCSEPod’ have become regular ways I use to assess my students’ short term progress.  As has been shown by researchers such as Dunlovski and others, testing (and self-testing) is a fundamental part of effective learning that strengthens our memory of what we learn. A lot of people see the game based learning platforms as simply games and shy away from or reject their use; others see them as a playing a key role in the learning process.

Looking at the mind-set of the competitive 15-year-old boys in my GCSE PE class; learning theory through the vast variety of methods used in our department, does not come close to seeing the 4 multiple choice answers flash up on the board and with one click on the interactive device they have instant feedback on their knowledge or lack of.

So does playing Kahoot really aid learning?  I put the theory to the test by letting the students play a game of Kahoot.  Then, later in the lesson, I played the same Kahoot with them but with the answers moved around (interleaving).  The average score rose by 20%.  Working on the hypothesis that this short term recall process was what led to the improvement, I decided to wait 2 weeks and have the same class complete the Kahoot again.  The results rose further with all but one student gaining 100%… “Oh I didn’t mean to click that” (the excuse coming out!)

A lot of research carried out has had mix findings.  A study into game based learning in 2013 by Perrotta el al “consistently found that video games can impact positively on problem solving skills, motivation and engagement”.

Can we gather instant feedback while the student is immersed in learning?  Both ‘Plickers’, ‘GCSEPod’ and ‘Kahoot’ can be used to give hard evidence as to students learning.  Recently we were treated to an interesting CPD session on literacy.  The colleague taught in very short concise snippets and then used a Kahoot question to put theory into practice.  He was able to gain instant feedback on whether the group understood and could thus move on swiftly to his next goal. This tied in with research by Kristen DiCerbo showing that rather than tell a student, “stop your learning activity and take this test,” we can gather data as they are immersed in a learning game that gives us the same or more information about student progress.

With the move in many subject areas for longer answer based questions; these game based platforms aren’t going to always hit that higher order answer required to be getting the highest grades.  However, it might help our students deepen their memory, motivate them in their learning and give us valuable opportunities for AFL – vital ingredients for success on any course.

There are lots of game based learning platforms available as learning tools; here are some of the leading platforms as highlighted in a survey by

1. Kahoot

Kahoot has become the most widely used platform in our school.  It is a game-based educational platform which allows formative assessment – through quizzing, collaboration and presentation of content. This tool initiates peer-led discussions and ensures 100% engagement by turning the classroom into a gameshow, combining multiplayer game-based learning, ease-of-use and mobile technology, creating an enchanting social experience. For example, teachers can use Kahoot to build fun quizzes. Students use computers, mobile phones, ipads or other devices to join in the game.

2. Plickers and Quickkey mobile scanner

The big advantage of Plickers over Kahoot is that each student doesn’t need to have their own device.  It works in a similar way where multiple choice questions are displayed and students hold up a Plicker card for the answer. Looking at the class through the camera on your smartphone inside the Plicker app, teachers will be able to see the name of each student and whether he or she got the answer right to the question asked. For quick quizzes, QuickKey mobile scanning app can be used by teachers who are iPhone users. Here the questions need to be multiple choice. Teachers can print out the short form and students bubble it in. Teachers can use their smartphone to immediately know what students know with a snap of a picture.

3. EdPuzzle/Zaption

Both EdPuzzle/Zaption transforms video-based learning with interactive content and tools that engage learners, deepen understanding, and track progress. Teachers can use these packages to quickly add images, text, and questions to existing online videos. I prefer EdPuzzle as it works really nicely with Google Classroom.  I have found this can work really well for flipped learning.  Setting a video for home learning, which you can monitor whether a student has watched, can add variation to home learning tasks. Students can’t move forward in the video until they can correctly answer the question. Thus, ensuring learning along the way.  Zaption has slightly more features in their Pro version but you do have to pay for that.

4. Socrative

“Visualising student understanding has never been clearer” is the slogan Socrative use and lives up to.  Socrative lets teachers engage and assess their students with educational activities on tablets, laptops and smartphones. Through the use of real time questioning, instant result aggregation and visualization, teachers can gauge the whole class’, current level of understanding. For example, teachers can use Socrative to create quick quizzes and play as a game called “Space Race”. The website automatically divides the class into teams. Students know what colour team they’re on and can look at the rockets racing one another on the board. Once the game is over it gives teachers percentages that can be later used as a grade. Thus, this tool helps save teachers’ time.

5. Backchannel Chat Tools

A back channel can provide quiet students with a place to ask questions without speaking up. A Backchannel Chat is a place that teachers can share supporting resources such as video’s, links and photos. Teachers can ask questions and watch the response of students to determine if they really understand the concepts being discussed. Students can search the Backchannel for notes and resources without having to scribble personal notes on paper. For example, teachers can use Backchannel chat to do exit ticket activities. Students can take notes and teachers can check for understanding by having them type answers to questions. Later, the chat can be exported and shared with the class as notes for the day.

Perrotta, C., Featherstone, G., Aston, H. and Houghton, E. (2013). Game-based Learning: Latest Evidence and Future Directions (NFER Research Programme: Innovation in Education). Slough: NFER.

See the excellent curation of formative assessment tools referred to in this piece…

5 Fantastic, Fast, Formative Assessment Tools

Posted on 24 January 2018
Posted in: Blog, Evidence

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