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Product Review: Kahoot! (An online trivia game platform)

A few weeks ago I wrote about how excited I was to stumble upon and then be able to use Kahoot! in a live training environment.

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On January 30, I facilitated a session with surgeons, high powered businessmen and healthcare professionals in the room. Overall, it was a very fun tool to use. Following is a more detailed review of what I liked about it as well as things you’ll want to keep in mind if you want to use Kahoot! to play a trivia game in a live classroom session. 

3 reasons why you’ll want to use Kahoot!:

1. Super easy to set up. You go to the site. You create an account. You start entering your questions and choices (including identifying the correct choice). And you’re done. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve ever used a free online tool that was so easy to set up.

2. Participants really engaged with it. While every audience is different and you really should know your audience, I’ve found that most audiences like games and they like competition. When we introduced Kahoot! at our meeting, it was a new and novel way for the audience to engage, participate and compete. It made them feel as though it was an actual game show with a professional interface (as opposed to my old flipchart-style Jeopardy game board or even a game created using PowerPoint). There was a countdown timer for every question. And the scoring was different than any other game we’ve played, which brings me to my third point…

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3. Nuanced scoring. With Kahoot!, you earn points by answering correctly… and you earn more points the faster you input a correct answer. I’ve found that traditional Jeopardy-style trivia games can drag on as teams discuss what could be the correct answer, then you have to give them a warning that time is up, then you need to ask for their final answer. Kahoot!’s unique scoring naturally eliminates that, keeps the game moving, and rewards those who are “quick on the draw.”

3 things to keep in mind:

1. It’s web-based… so have a reliable Internet connection. This part scared me as my meeting was in a hotel in India and I was having issues with Internet connectivity all week. If you don’t have a reliable Internet connection, this won’t work. Period. Be sure to have a back-up plan, just in case. Our Internet connectivity went down just before the final question in the game and when the Internet came back up, Kahoot! had reset everyone’s score.

2. Technology can be fickle (especially the day of an important meeting). Practice before you try this for real. Weeks before this meeting, I tried Kahoot! with some co-workers to test out its functionality and gauge their reactions to the technology. Then I tested it the day before our meeting with the hotel’s technology and Internet connectivity. During this trial at the hotel, we realized that it just seemed to function better on a laptop than on mobile devices and phones, so we eliminated the idea of using mobile devices during the actual meeting. Finally, in the early morning hours on the day of the meeting, I had a co-worker test every laptop to make sure they were working and that we could mitigate as many technology “fails” as possible.

3. Warning: Kahoot! can challenge your cognitive abilities. One of the biggest quirks of Kahoot! is that the question and the choices only appear on the computer used by the facilitator and projected on a screen. The game players will only see colors and shapes that correspond with the 4 possible answer choices. For this reason, it is important to do several practice questions to get your participants accustomed to the quirky interface before you play for real.

Overall, I loved it. The audience loved it. I’m looking forward to using it again. That said, it’s always important to keep in mind that while trivia-style games are fun, it’s good to make sure there’s a purpose for the fun. In our case, it was a year-in-review session and we wanted to present key highlights in a more engaging way than just flashing a bunch of accomplishments in a PowerPoint slide.

If you have used Kahoot! or if you’re planning to use it, I’d love to hear about your experiences (or your intentions) in the Comment section!

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