By Jill Lillard
Education Department
Delaware Technical Community College
Terry Campus

How do we actively engage our students? This age-old question was explored by Jean Piaget’s theory of constructivism. Piaget believed children learn best through active learning that is engaging by design. Today, one type of engagement that is common to many of our students is video games.

These students have grown up with video games, and the primary goal of a game is to entertain. Why not base instructional design around this same concept? Similar to players in a video game, learners in the classroom should be active in problem solving and critical thinking.

Educational games can enhance curriculum by offering challenging tasks. The instructor scaffolds the learning process and allows them to be a part of an interactive learning environment. This concept requires interpretation of data, immediate feedback, differentiated tasks, individualized and project-based learning, and intrinsic motivation. All of these concepts are critical for effective teaching. The customization afforded by game-based learning creates a environment ripe for differentiated instruction, which in turn allows us to meet the instructional needs of all learners.

There are a lot of ways to gamify your classroom, but one tool that I’ve discovered recently is called Kahoot!, a free online audience response system that promotes blending learning. As an educator, you can use Kahoot! to create quizzes, surveys, and discussion webs which can be projected to the class. The students are then able to use any personal device with a web browser to respond simultaneously and in real time. As the timer ticks down and the catchy music plays in the background, students race to answer fastest. After each round, students are provided immediate feedback – and can even compare their progress to others in the classroom.

Kahoot! is easy to access. Students don’t even need to create an account. They simply join the game using the pin provided by the instructor. It’s great for formative assessment as well, because the teacher has access to a PDF that gives a snapshot of student results. Therefore, the teacher can guide instruction based on the students’ needs. Using Kahoot! is a guaranteed way to motivate participation through interactive game-based learning and instruction.

I definitely give a hoot about Kahoot!

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