By: Leslie Hamilton, Features Editor
My first introduction to the educational platform, Kahoot!, was in the spring of 2017. It was just your average Monday evening, where I was dreading the idea of sitting through yet another chapter meeting and standards presentation. Unable to think of an excuse good enough to warrant my absence at chapter, I made my way to the basement of Bertlsmeyer Hall and into one of the bigger lecture halls in the building. I found my way to my typical spot in the back where no one would be able to tell I was not paying attention and whispering snarky comments to my neighboring friends. Midway through chapter, the member enrichment chair asked us to pull out our phones and join this trivia game via the Kahoot! website. In doing so, I was able to express my more creative side in creating my own name – I wish I could share my first Kahoot! nickname with you all; however, it is not appropriate for this publication. Regardless, Kahoot! was able to bring life back into something so mundane and I routinely dreading participating in. The shear possibility that there would be a Kahoot! game was the sole reason I was still attending chapter at this point. The fear of missing out on climbing onto that scoreboard with whatever embarassing or immature nickname I came up with was all too real.
Flash-forward to this semester, finally resuming classes after co-op, I did not realize that professors at MS&T caught the Kahoot! bug and jumped on the bandwagon in using this platform for in-class quizzes and reviews instead of the traditional clicker system. To which, I would say I am relieved because using clickers just is not as gratifying and thrilling as using Kahoot!. Sure they are both timed and show a distribution of answers, the ranking alongside the timed questions in Kahoot! encourages students to not only answer the question quickly but also answer it correctly, giving them bragging rights should they make their way onto the scoreboard. Although, the system is a little skewed in that you can be a leader on the scoreboard and have more incorrect answers than whoever might be seated second or third, it simply means that you might have answered the questions correctly quicker than others. Essentially, the system rewards points for answering correctly, but also for answering quickly and it seems that the system rewards more points for answering both correctly and quickly than it does for just answering correctly. This might be somewhat irksome for students that might need more time to process; however, getting in that mindset and practicing how to solve problems or learning tricks on how to decide where to start given the information provided is useful in classes that test your problem solving skills or have exams that require you to keep a certain pace in solving each problem. Sure, maintaining a certain pace throughout a test is paramount in any class; however, I have found that it is often the classes that require you to work through a problem and calculate a value from other calculated values is where being able to quickly identify your approach is especially important. Should you stray from this pace and require a bit longer to solve a problem, your chances of not finishing the exam increase. Although you might be able to ultimately solve a problem if given an infinite amount of time to exhaust several approaches, the idea of timed examination or quizzing encourages students to learn how to identify strategy and approach as a means to test their level of understanding of the material. Either way, I just want to say that I have never looked forward to in-class quizzes using a learning platform in my four years at MS&T, until now. I have traditionally always preferred the old paper quiz method, my reasoning being of similar argumentation to preferring a physical book over an E-book.
Although, I am rather infatuated with this educational platform, I will say that I do have some dissatisfaction in its implementation at our campus. It goes without saying, given how long I have been at MS&T, that I have a clicker that is more or less useless and I wasted money on it’s initial purchase along with the Turning Point software license in 2013. Moreover, I also wasted money in 2015 when I was required to purchase another Turning Point software license because the university decided upgrade or something of that sort – if I remember correctly, it was so that phones or computers could be used as a clicker as well. Either way, I recall being told something similar to what I was told in 2013, saying that this would be the only license I would need during my academic pursuit at MS&T. Ultimately, I would say that I have an underlying bitterness about the money I spent under the false pretense that I would get my money’s worth. All I can think about is how I could have otherwise wasted that $200-$300 on something else. My other complaint about MS&T’s implementation of Kahoot! is more trivial than anything. My discontentment that I only have one class that let me choose my own username is not nearly as justifiable as my monetary grievance over a clicker and license expenses.
All in all, I am thrilled to see professors attempting to create a more interactive and engaging learning environment. I can attest to the fact that I have never been more engaged or excited about attending class.