Quizlet gets a new genre game addition.

I have been a great fan of Quizlet (founded 2006) for many years. As a language learning tool it can be excellent if done correctly. One teacher who does it very well in my opinion is Phrase Bot who provides definitions and examples with the vocabulary items for the Academic Word List.  For example the Quizlet for sublist 5 of the Academic Word List: AWL sublist 5.

My favourite mode of Quizlet was the Scatter game where students had to match terms and definitions as quickly as possible. The timer showed how fast they could match the 10 definitions and vocabulary items on display. However, my students got really competitive and decided to win by gaming the system, not by trying to use brain power to find the answer. They quickly dragged a definition to the closest word and then to the next word if they didn’t match and so on. They could do one exercise in under 19 seconds! My better students were dismayed to see the students that had done no study getting the prizes for fastest finished.

I hoped Quizlet would introduce a penalty for wrong guesses – and that was what this post was originally  to do – to urge them to have a mode of gaming that did reward those that had studied.

Well, the innovators in Quizlet must have read my mind. Or, more plausibly, they saw the impact Kahoot was having in the language games sphere and decided to add an option to meet Kahoot head on.

Kahoot team game

Live team game (from Quizlet website)

Since April 2016, Quizlet now boasts their Live option. Just like Kahoot, the teacher sets up the game at one internet address and the students login on another. This way the teacher gets to see and display the leader board to the whole class while the students get the quiz on their screens. Just like Kahoot.

Then there is the mLearning twist unique to Quizlet. The Live session is best done with mobile devices such as mobile phones, iPads, Chromebooks or even laptops – not in a computer lab with stationary desktops, which is where I did my first trial with Quizlet Live. Because Quizlet Live will allocate the students who are logged in to teams at random, not those sitting next to each other.  A great way to get a class to mix and collaborate.

The scoring scheme here at first appears to be the same old boring single points for the correct answer. However, the winning team is the one that gets to 12 points first, so there is an element of rewarding the fastest responder. I was hoping Quizlet would at least penalise the students a bit in the Scatter mode for getting wrong answers. In Live, the punishment for a wrong answer is immediate and extremely harsh.  Your team simply loses all the points it had gained up till then. Snakes and ladders on steroids. With no ladders and long snakes. This enforces collaboration and is a huge disincentive for the quick click. Remember it is a team game. Everyone has to answer the question correctly for the team to get the point. If just one team member clicks wrongly, all the points are lost. So the smartest teams discuss which of the four options the right answer is, then one member bravely clicks on the consensus answer. If that is right, the rest also click on that answer.

Kahoot team points

Kahoot team points

My class were very engaged – far more than when they did Scatter. They had to gather round one desktop to select the answer then scurry to their other desktops to click on the answer before the group were awarded their point. Got a class that needs a bit of a shake up? Play Live on desktops!

How does Live compare to Kahoot?

  • Kahoot can be played in both team mode by getting students sitting next to each other and individual mode. There is no individual mode for Live.
  • You need at least 6 students to play Live – tough if you have only 5 in your class. Of course, if you want to be creative, just get one person to sign up twice.
  • Live will use any of the quizzes you have already created, plus any of the ones you want to import that others have done. Same with Kahoot
  • Kahoot positively rewards correct answers, the faster the better. Wrong answers merely mean no extra points. With Live wrong answers strips your team of any points. Weaker students might find the constant stripping of gains a turn off. But the Live method is great for enforcing collaboration.
  • Kahoot gives you the ability to analyse each student’s performance after the game is over whereas in Live you can only see the team result.
  • Quizlets are far quicker to create. Every answer and distractor in Kahoot needs to be written in. With Quizlets, you just supply the items and matching answers to be tested then the distractors are automatically drawn from the other answers in the quiz. For example, if you have a 20 question quiz, in Quizlet you write 20 items and the matching answers. That is 40 entries. For the same quiz in Kahoot you have to write in the item plus the correct answer and 3 distractors. That is 100 entries compared to the 40 in Quizlet.
  • You have so many other modes (Flashcards, Learn, Test, Speller, plus the games Scatter, Gravity and now Live), supplied with Quizlet that can be used as self-study, which Kahoot doesn’t have.

So Quizlet has more than just an edge over Kahoot in my opinion. However, both have a place in any teacher’s eLearning toolbox, increasing engagement as a result of the competitive juices flowing.


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