ⓘ Kahoot!


ⓘ Kahoot!

Kahoot! is a game-based learning platform, used as educational technology in schools and other educational institutions. Its learning games, "Kahoots", are multiple-choice quizzes that allow user generation and can be accessed via a web browser or the Kahoot app.

Kahoot! can be used to review students knowledge, for formative assessment, or as a break from traditional classroom activities. Kahoot! also includes trivia quizzes.


1. History and development

Kahoot! was founded by Johan Brand, Jamie Brooker and Morten Versvik in a joint project with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. They teamed up with Professor Alf Inge Wang and were later joined by Norwegian entrepreneur Åsmund Furuseth. Kahoot! was launched in a private beta at SXSWedu in March 2013 and the beta was released to the public in September 2013.

Kahoot! was designed for social learning, with learners gathered around a common screen such as an interactive whiteboard, projector, or a computer monitor. The site can also be used through screen-sharing tools such as Skype, or Google Hangouts. The game design is such that the players are required to frequently look up from their devices. The gameplay is simple; all players connect using a generated game PIN shown on the common screen, and use a device to answer questions created by a teacher, business leader, or other person. These questions can be changed to award points. Points then show up on the leaderboard after each question.

Kahoot! has now implemented Jumble. Jumble questions challenge players to place answers in the correct order rather than selecting a single correct answer. It offers a new experience that encourages even more focus from players.

Kahoot! can be played through different web browsers and mobile devices through its web interface.

In March 2017, Kahoot! reached one billion cumulative participating players and in the month of May, the company was reported to have 50 million monthly active unique users. In September 2017, Kahoot! launched a mobile application for homework.

As of 2017, Kahoot! has raised $26.5 million in funding from Northzone, Creandum and Microsoft Ventures. As of October 11, 2018, Kahoot! is valued at $300 million.

In 2020, Kahoot Managing Investor Matthew Swanson and Kahoot CEO Daniel Magruder sold a majority of shares to Magruder, along with 2 and 3 percent shares to Colin Worthington and Edgar Cervantes, respectively.


2. Research and prototypes

The game concept used in Kahoot! started out as an idea of Professor Alf Inge Wang at Department for Computer Science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in 2006, which resulted in multiple prototypes that were developed and tested in experiments conducted in collaboration with master students. The idea was to transform the classroom, where the teacher acted as the game show host and the students were contenders using their own mobile devices. The initial prototype was named Lecture Quiz. Lecture Quiz 1.0 was developed in 2006 before real smartphones were available first iPhone was released June 29, 2007. The server was implemented in Java and MySQL integrated with an Apache Web server, the teacher client was implemented as a Java application in combination with Open GL for graphics, while the student clients were implemented on Java 2 Micro Edition, which made it possible to run the client on both mobile phones and laptops. Those students who played the game using their own laptops could use the Wi-Fi available at the university, while those playing using mobile phones had to use 3G over the cellular network. The latter was a disadvantage, as the students had to pay out of their own pocket to play Lecture Quiz as the telecom providers at that time charged per megabyte transferred. The first experiment with Lecture Quiz was carried out in a classroom with twenty students at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology where the focus was on usability and usefulness. The results from the experiment showed that Lecture Quiz was relatively easy to use, contributed to increased learning, that it was entertaining, and increased the motivation for attending more lectures. From 2006 to 2011, four versions of Lecture Quiz were developed, where the main changes were related to improved usability, making it easier to create quizzes, and using newer technology for implementation.

Lecture Quiz 2.0 was the first prototype where both teacher and student clients had web-interfaces. An experiment testing the 2.0 prototype showed that the usability had been improved both for the teacher and the student clients, and that the concept increased students motivation, engagement, concentration and perceived learning. The last version of Lecture Quiz was version 3.0, with significantly improved user-interface implemented using HTML 5 and CSS3, avatars, and multiple game/team modes. Lecture Quiz 3.0 was tested internally at the university as well as externally at various schools such as at Skaun Ungdomsskole where the students rejoiced over having a test in social science.

Since Kahoot! was launched in 2013, the research community has conducted many experiments related to the effects of the using the game-based learning platform in classrooms. A quasi-experiment conducted at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology with 252 students participating investigated the wear out effect of Kahoot! by comparing students perception of the system after playing once vs. playing frequently over five months. The results did not show any statistically significant reductions in students engagement, motivation, concentration or perceived learning over time, but there was a significant change in classroom dynamics less communication among players after five months. The conclusion was that Kahoot! manage to boost students engagement, motivation, concentration and learning after using it repeatedly for five months. The core factor to keep students attention after heavy repeated usage was found to be the competitive nature of Kahoot!.

There is also research that investigates how Kahoot! perform compared to other tools and platforms. In a quasi-experiment with 384 students at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Kahoot! was compared to using a paper quiz and a simple polling system called Clicker. The results show statistically significant improvement in motivation, engagement, enjoyment, and concentration for the gamified approach Kahoot! compared to the two other. However, the results did not show any significant differences in learning outcomes.

Another quasi-experiment at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, in which 593 students participated, investigated how the use of points and audio in Kahoot! affects concentration, engagement, enjoyment, learning, motivation and classroom dynamics. The results reveal that there are some significant differences whether audio and points are used in the areas of concentration, engagement, enjoyment and motivation. The worst result was for the case where both audio and points were turned off. The most surprising finding was how classroom dynamics was positively affected by the use of audio.

According to research by two students at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the network latency in accessing the website greatly influences the quality of experience of the platform, in both longitudinal and cross-section studies, with a sample size N=21. It was found that about 70% of the sample size regard Kahoot! as having positive results on all delay levels, while a varying number of students between 10-20% report that the platform is too time-consuming, forming a direct relationship with the duration of the delay.

A literature review containing 93 studies on the effect of using Kahoot! for learning was published in the journal Computers & Education in 2020. This is the first literature review that investigates most published studies on how to use Kahoot! affects learning in the classroom. The focus of the review is on learning performance, classroom dynamics, students and teachers attuites and perceptions, and student anxiety. The main conclusion is that Kahoot! has a positive effect on learning performance, classroom dynamics, attuites, and anxiety, and the main challenges include technical problems, see questions and answers, time stress, afraid of losing, and hard to catch up. Studies included in this review use a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods that reveal among other things that Kahoot! has statistical significant improvement on learning performance compared to traditional teaching and other tools, a statistical significant improvement on students’ and teachers’ perception of lectures, statistical significant improvement in classroom dynamics, and that Kahoot! can reduce students’ anxiety compared to traditional teaching and other tools.


3. In popular culture

Kahoot!s growing popularity in schools led to it becoming an Internet meme. Its interface, as well as catchy music, has inspired many memes and social media accounts dedicated to posting such content. The website even has its own Know Your Meme page.

On March 26, 2019, an Internet user by the name of "Max" created an Instagram account titled "worlds.largest.kahoot" with the purpose of breaking the previous record of the worlds largest Kahoot! game ever. The game was to be live-streamed on the YouTube channel Maxed on April 19, 2019, but it was later moved to another channel titled Maxed Hangout. The live-stream had more than 50.000 viewers, but the game couldnt be played as the Kahoot! servers crashed when the number of players attempting to join exceeded the 2000 player limit. The organizer of the event stated that he would contact the company and reschedule the game.