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An Interview on Gamification, use of AI and digital challenges with Kahoot!

In today's rapidly evolving educational landscape, traditional teaching methods are continuously being challenged to adapt to the needs and preferences of modern learners. As a provider of gamified learning software, Kahoot! focuses on the topic of digital literacy and how the concept of gamification has emerged as a powerful tool for transforming the learning experience. In the following interview, Mr. Sean D’Arcy, Vice President Kahoot! at school and home, gives us an insight into how gamification approaches and playful digital solutions can improve learning motivation, which needs of teachers can be covered by such technologies and how Kahoot! deals with challenges and risks of the digital age.


merz: First, can you tell us something about the company and give us an overview of Kahoot!’s topics around education, as well as the mission and vision of Kahoot!.

Kahoot!: Our mission at Kahoot!, is to make learning awesome – for everyone. Kahoot! was founded with the idea of creating a learning experience that fuses technology, gameplay and social elements.  Over time, teachers noticed that students were more engaged with learning through active learning, meaning that they were part of the learning process through play. We put a strong focus on developing our solutions for districts and educators by developing a platform that is ad-free, safe, and offers premium content, as well as a series of features that help educators assess learning and identify learning gaps immediately. We also add new features into Kahoot! to help educators save time preparing their lessons. We achieved this by introducing the AI question generator and by offering learning content that is curated and verified by experts.

Focus: Gamification

merz: How can gamification approaches, for example in the form of playful digital solutions at schools, concretely lead to better learning outcomes?

Kahoot!: Firstly, digital solutions with gamified elements are simply more fun for students than traditional lectures/teaching. This allows the students to be more engaged with the topic of choice in the first place. Additionally, instantaneous, concrete feedback – what did they get right, what needs to be improved upon – and the chance for self-evaluation are provided in Kahoot!, which helps students immediately identify their strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, the gamification approach also motivates students to continuously improve, as they strive to make it to the top of the leaderboard.

merz: In relation to the question before: Which motivation-promoting effects can be achieved exactly by these gamification solutions?

Kahoot!: These kinds of tools incorporate gamification features by rewarding users with points for correct answers, for example, and display their results in a leaderboard. In a classroom setting, this motivates students to earn more points to win the friendly competition, either individually or in a team. Some solutions also offer low-threshold opportunities for students to participate in class by sharing ideas or thoughts via the tool. This can especially help those students who are otherwise a little quieter in class.

Focus: Use of AI

merz: How can a responsible handling, especially for young people, of (new) AI technologies look like in the context of pedagogical settings or teaching-learning contexts?

Kahoot!: It is especially crucial that students understand both the potential and the constraints of AI. For instance, sometimes the output can be simply inaccurate. However, it can also be a helpful tool for both students and teachers to spark new ideas, which they can then build on through their own critical thinking, creativity, and research. Thus, rather than outright rejecting AI, educators should approach it with a critical eye and teach their students to do the same.

merz: What opportunities does Kahoot! offer teachers to become familiar with the use of AI for instructional design? Which needs of teachers can be covered by such technologies?

Kahoot!: We’re already using AI on our platform. During the summer, we launched the Kahoot!  AI question generator. This technology enables educators to create Kahoots! about any topic in seconds. Educators can always review the questions generated by our AI feature to ensure that they get exactly what they need. We are also leveraging AI to further improve the effectiveness and efficiency of Kahoot!. For example, there are over 100 million public Kahoots and over 1.9 billion user generated questions available on the platform. Utilizing large language models, we make it quick and easy to auto-create quizzes and presentations, allowing educators to easily incorporate fun, interactive, and educational elements into their lessons with little effort on their part. We are also on the verge of releasing a PDF to kahoot feature, which will empower educators to upload their actual curriculum and quickly generate kahoots from it. This will not only save educators time but also ensure that AI-generated kahoots are aligned with learning goals.

Focus: Digital education and inclusion

merz: Which digital and media pedagogical skills can be specifically trained with the help of Kahoot!’s tools?

Kahoot!:  We offer an accessible, low-stakes environment to learn digital skills – tapping the wrong answer may cost you some points on a live quiz experience, but other than that, there are no other consequences. Encouraging students to craft their own Kahoots and presentations not only fosters knowledge-sharing among peers but also enhances their own retention of information. Additionally, when we play, we are less afraid to fail. We figure things out together and adapt to surprises as they come – a very useful skill in life in general.

merz: The quiz functions of the game platform create a certain competitive atmosphere. How can it be ensured at this point that players can benefit equally from their individual skills from the application? (keyword inclusive claim)

Kahoot!: One option would be for educators to create several Kahoots with different levels of difficulty on a particular topic, or create whole Kahoot! courses that students can progress through at their own pace. Kahoot! is certainly adaptable to learners of all skill levels, as you adapt the difficulty of your questions, or you can create teams with students that have varying levels of skill. By being partnered with students who are perhaps stronger in certain areas, those students who need help can get it directly from their peers. This allows for not only an inclusive atmosphere, but also teaches the students team-building and social skills.

Focus: Digital challenges

merz: How does Kahoot! address digital challenges or online risks such privacy, digital barriers, the distribution of content that is not child appropriate, etc.?

Kahoot!: Privacy and security in our platform are high priority in our products. We are a Norwegian company that is GDPR-compliant. Moreover, our customer support department works every day in the moderation of the platform to ensure that the content in our platform remains safe for everyone accessing it. Whenever our team identifies Kahoots containing  inappropriate content, we stop this content and analyze the content in the Kahoot. In some cases, teachers need to teach complex topics, so our job is to deliver the best learning experience for both students and educators through our platform.

merz: What are the current limitations of Kahoot! that may be addressed in future updates?

Kahoot!: We strive to constantly improve our platform and offer our users a complete experience. However, there are certain limitations, as you say, that we are looking to improve. This includes the need for continued localization efforts. While the platform is currently available in 18 languages, the goal is to enhance the user experience for individuals across various continents by continuing to expand language support. Additionally, the imperative to stay on top of evolving technological advancements is recognized, with a commitment to ensuring that Kahoot! remains at the forefront of innovation. Acknowledging that today's improvements may fall short for tomorrow's needs, there is a focus on delivering products with the highest quality and incorporating the latest technology to provide an optimal experience for all users. Furthermore, efforts are underway to make Kahoot! more accessible and inclusive, catering to diverse learning styles. This involves the ongoing development of new features and options that empower educators and learners to tailor their learning experiences to suit their individual preferences and needs. All this to say, we have many exciting additions in the future.

merz: As far as that can be made public: What does the future hold for Kahoot!, what are further plans?

Kahoot!: Since founding a decade ago our mission remains to make learning awesome. Supporting this mission we have a strong innovation pipeline; our users can look forward to an even more awesome and interactive learning experience. We are going to evolve our platform, leverage our unique ecosystem of partner content even more, and mobilize our vast community to develop learning content and materials.

merz: To conclude our conversation, I would like to hear from you if there is anything else you would like to add to this topic. Is there a final statement or message you would like to share with our readers?

Kahoot!: The most important thing we should do is have fun learning, regardless of how old we are. But first, we need to truly make sure that the mindset in schools equates to learning being something positive and enjoyable. We believe that this approach allows for more efficiency in the classroom and leads to better retention of learning material in students. In addition, it allows for children that have perhaps struggled in the past, to find new ways to learn. Approaching learning in this unique way means we stray from the traditional and lean towards the new. At Kahoot!, we want to always keep moving forward.


Das Interview führten Katharina Halo und Katharina Stengl mit Mr. Sean D’Arcy.