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30 Apr 2020

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Word cloud and slides help a university lecturer initiate robust literature discussions

Bailey Betik, graduate instructor teaching literature at Emory University, talks about the impact of game-based instruction in higher ed, lowering pressure to help students remember more, and why word cloud is her favorite Kahoot! feature.

“We started using game-based learning to help students drill facts and remember things. Now with word cloud, we use it to expand into more nuanced discussions.” – read how Bailey Betik, graduate instructor at Emory University in Atlanta, makes the most of Kahoot! in a British literature course.

Fun is something everyone needs. If you don’t have some element of fun to what you’re doing, you’re going to burn out. Students, especially in higher education, have a lot of pressure on them these days. Bringing fun into learning can relieve some of that pressure, and help students perform better.

I noticed that students always remember something fun and interactive more than lecture-based material. When I taught English to 10th graders, we used Kahoot! to prepare for standardized testing and in review sessions, both inside and outside the classroom. It was very well received by learners and efficient, too. So, when I joined Emory University as a graduate instructor, I didn’t hesitate to bring Kahoot! on board there.

Lower pressure – better knowledge retention

At Emory, I co-taught a survey class on British literature last semester. We had to cover lots of authors and topics (not only literature, but history, too) at a rapid speed. Kahoot! was very useful for reviewing content and lightening up heavy topics. Engaging in a fun, interactive activity is way more efficient when it comes to remembering content, compared to just listening to the lecturer.

Students enjoy Kahoot! so much that they even ask for games to play at home for review. While playing, students forget the stress and feel energized. Even entering funny nicknames is like a mini-competition in creativity and wittiness.

Engaging in a fun, interactive activity is way more efficient when it comes to remembering content, compared to just listening to the lecturer.

Drill facts, remember things and expand into nuanced discussions

A multiple-choice quiz is probably top of mind when you think of Kahoot!. With that “classic” format we introduced game-based learning to help students drill facts and remember things. Now, with word cloud (NB: Kahoot! Premium feature) we use Kahoot! to expand into more nuanced discussions.

This question type was SO helpful in getting students to prep for exam essays. In essay questions they had to pull in larger themes, so this was helpful to jog their memory.

Another example of using word cloud is to discuss historical contexts, such as the Renaissance. I would ask students to write the name of a person or concept that was influential in that period. Seeing different suggestions on the screen would jumpstart discussions about how we see this figure or event coming up in a text.

I also found slides to be a very handy addition to Kahoot!. I used them as checkpoints for topics we’ve just covered, as a way for students to recap and self-assess their understanding.

Tailor reviews based on quantifiable results

One of the directors I co-taught the course with hadn’t branched out in bringing digital technologies into lecture, but when he tried Kahoot!, he immediately understood its value for making his lectures more exciting. It helps us, lecturers, build better rapport with any class.

Another “hot hit” with instructors is the way Kahoot! supports formative assessment. It gives us quantifiable results that show how well students understand a topic, and we don’t have to review slips of paper after every class.

Insights from game reports help us tailor reviews. Based on what percentage of students got this question right, we might discover that we need to review Othello, or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Based on the findings, I’d bring up the kahoot at the beginning of the next class to jumpstart discussion.

Kahoot! creates a community

Most of the time, being able to get 30-40 students to interact in discussions and reviews really spurs their learning. Those who answered correctly will usually explain to their peers what the correct text was. We, teachers/professors, appreciate how it facilitates connections between students and shapes a community of learning outside of the classroom.

3 tips for creating a kahoot your students will love

  • Add fun, catchy images. The built-in image library is a good start. But I’d also recommend using memes! I used a few of them to illustrate some concepts – and students still remember them
  • Add slides to sum up important points, tone down the pressure in a long kahoot and practice material
  • Try word cloud to jumpstart discussion and build a community of collaboration.

Follow Bailey’s lead and get started with Kahoot! for higher education today!