Ontario Tech University
The popularity of using educational online quiz-based games (EOQBGs) in learning environments continues to grow. It is important that educators understand what exactly is an EOQBG and how they can be implemented in a classroom setting. EOQBGs are not something entirely new and are connected to student response systems (SRSs), a concept of the seventies. There are many different EOQBG platforms. It is a good idea for educators to familiarize themselves with the more common ones. Gamification, game-based learning, and game-based pedagogy all have ties to EOQBGs. There are a considerable number of benefits to EOQBGs, but there are also significant drawbacks. EOQBGs are constantly evolving and future versions of them, although still incorporating quiz questions, will become more complex. EOQBGs are here to stay in the world of education technology and should not be considered a gimmick.
educational online quiz-based games, game-based learning, game-based pedagogy, gamification, student response systems
What are Educational Online Quiz-Based Games?
If you have been a student in a classroom in the last ten years or so, then chances are you have played some version of an educational online quiz-based game (EOQBG). Simply put, EOQBGs are quiz games that are played online with participants, which are usually students, either in a classroom or pretty much anywhere where the host of the game and players have access to the internet. The creator of the game prepares a series of multiple choice questions that focus on a specific topic (i.e., math, history, science) and hosts the game using some version of an EOQBG platform, such as Kahoot! (2022) or Quizziz (2022). When a game is being hosted, players join the game by entering a game pin on their smart device (i.e., PC, tablet, phone, etc.). Once players have connected, the host begins the game. Multiple choice quiz questions that have time limits and point values are presented to players. Typically, the faster a player answers a question, the more points will be earned. In between questions, a scoreboard is presented to players that displays point accumulation and player progress (i.e., changes in rank, correct answer streaks, etc.). Quiz games are often concluded with a suspenseful end result animation that displays who ranked first, second, and third.
It is important to note that EOQBGs on most platforms now can be played both synchronously and asynchronously. If being played synchronously, the host of the game usually uses a PC to run the game and a digital projector to display the questions and scoreboard to players. Depending on the tech policies of the institutions that are synchronously hosting the games, players may join the game with their own devices or are provided with a device.
Origins of Educational Online Quiz-Based Games
Besides the flashy visuals, catchy sounds, and innovative technology of EOQBGs, they are nothing really radical or new. As a matter of fact, EOQBGs originate from a pedagogical concept called a student response system (SRS) that was developed in the early seventies (Wang, 2020). A SRS is a practice of proposing questions to students and receiving input. In a very basic sense, think of a teacher in a classroom asking students a survey question, collecting their responses, and recording input on a chalkboard. In the seventies, studies were done to determine the effectiveness of using SRSs in the teaching of biology and chemistry to students (Wang, 2020). What was found was that the use of SRSs in a learning environment improved interactivity, academic performance, and engagement (Wang, 2020). SRSs are not without their drawbacks though as some of the challenges encountered were waiting times, academic efficacy, and practicality (Wang, 2020). It makes one wonder how well the EOQBGs of today address the SRS drawbacks of the past.
Not as visually appealing and technically advanced as today’s EOQBG platforms, but the SRS concept is present in this classroom using clickers (CTLE ERAU-DB, 2013):
Navigating and Choosing an Educational Online Quiz-Based Game
These days, it seems like every couple of months multiple EOQBG platforms are made readily available to the public. It can be very overwhelming and stressful for educators when considering which EOQBG to use in the classroom. For the sake of simplifying the decision making process, three of the more established EOQBGs will be explained.
First, Kahoot! (2022), one of the older and more popular EOQBGs. It has a very user-friendly interface making both quiz creation and the playing of quizzes a pleasant experience. The colour scheme of Kahoot! is also appealing and its theme music is very catchy. A nice feature of Kahoot! is the variety of questions that can be created. Besides multiple choice, players can also solve puzzles by arranging answer pieces in the correct order or actually type in a response. Second, Quizziz (2022). Very similar to Kahoot!. Of special note is the quality of its free version and its ability to embed audio and video in questions (Higgin, 2022). Third, Quizlet (2022). Capable of running quizzes similar to both Kahoot! and Quizziz. However, one feature to note with this platform is its flash card feature, which can be very useful for students when preparing for a quiz, test, or exam (Higgin, 2022).
An overview of Kahoot! (Kahoot, 2018)
An Overview of Quizizz (re:edTech, 2018)
An Overview of Quizlet (Quizlet, 2017)
Educational Online Quiz-Based Games in Relation to Game-Esque Pedagogy
For many educators, when considering implementing EOQBGs in their classrooms, a justification process occurs that tends to focus on the pedagogical reasoning behind such an endeavor. Throughout this process, a number of pedagogical concepts may surface, such as gamification, game-based learning (GBL), and game-based pedagogy (GBP). Are these concepts the same? In some ways, yes. Which of these concepts do EOQBGs have ties to? Well, all of them. To sort through the perplexity, it will be beneficial to clearly define these concepts and explain how EOQBGs reflect their principles.
Starting with gamification. Simply defined, gamification is using game elements in a non-game context (Becker, 2021). Gamification is used to motivate learners by making an activity more playful and game-like (Becker, 2021). It can also be implemented in many different ways providing participants with intrinsic and/or extrinsic rewards (Becker, 2021). Examples help, so here is one for gamification. An elementary teacher using a gamification approach for behaviour management in the classroom where students level up by practicing school behavioural policies. In regards to EOQBGs and gamification, studying spelling words for a test is not very “game-like”, but can be when answering quiz questions that focus on spelling words with peers for points.
Becker (2021) provides an interesting analogy for comprehending game-based learning (GBL) and game-based pedagogy (GBP). She believes that GBL and GBP are two sides to the same coin. Think of it this way, GBL is the process and practice of learning using games, while GBP is the process and practice of teaching using games (Becker, 2021). GBL wants to improve learning and learning effectiveness and GBP wants to improve teaching practice and effectiveness (Becker, 2021). With a “game coin” in mind, one side of the coin (GBL) is student centered and the other side of the coin (GBP) is teacher centered. The benefits of EOQBGs will be explained in detail in the following section of this chapter, but it can be said with confidence that when used properly, these types of games promote both student learning and the effectiveness of a teacher’s pedagogy.
Benefits of Educational Online Quiz-Based Games
Many benefits of using EOQBGs in a learning environment were found while researching. The use of a list will help present some of the more prominent ones found.
Noteworthy Benefits of EOQBGs
- Helps to facilitate learning (Krisbiantoro, 2021)
- Creates opportunities to change negative emotions into positive experiences (Krisbiantoro, 2021)
- Makes learning much more fun (Krisbiantoro, 2021)
- Increases student activity and helps them understand material (Krisbiantoro, 2021)
- Promotes student interest in software (Krisbiantoro, 2021)
- Provides immediate feedback for students (Krisbiantoro, 2021)
- Generates more student interest through competition (William, 2016)
- Builds problem solving skills (William, 2016)
- Improves memory (William, 2016)
- Promotes social competence through player cooperation and interaction during gameplay (William, 2016)
- When used with language learning, captures student attention and interest (William, 2016)
- Breaks monotony and provides a thrill (Iaremenko, 2017)
- Helps students focus by providing a clear task (Iaremenko, 2017)
- Motivates students both intrinsically and extrinsically (Halim, 2020)
Drawbacks of Educational Online Quiz-Based Games
Despite the numerous benefits of EOQBGs, they still have drawbacks. Educators considering introducing EOQBGs into their learning environment should take them into careful consideration.
Noteworthy Drawbacks of EOQBGs
- Games can become predictable and boring (Krisbiantoro, 2021)
- Wear off effect when used too often (Wang, 2015)
- If learning objectives are not explained well or difficult to achieve, then the game becomes meaningless (Krisbiantoro, 2021)
- There is a psychological aspect (i.e., stress, anxiety, fear) to games that should be considered (Krisbiantoro, 2021)
- Focusing too much on external motivation (i.e., points, prizes) and not fostering internal motivation (Krisbiantoro, 2021)
- Can become a simplistic and inadequate design of learning (Kim, 2015)
- If a game manipulates a player’s behaviour, they may object and disengage from it (Kim, 2015)
- Not as simple to implement as some may think (i.e., points, badges, leaderboards, digital competency, etc.) (Gehong, 2014)
An Emerging Movement in Educational Online Quiz-Based Games
Recently, a few EOQBG platforms, such as Gimkit (2022) and Blooklet (2022), have begun moving in a fresh and unique direction. These two EOQBG platforms, although still driven by a quiz question approach, have introduced new elements. These elements are game modes. Game modes present players with unique challenges that deviate from the traditional pursuit of points. In any game mode, players still answer quiz questions to progress, but the purpose of answering quiz questions changes. In one game mode, answering a quiz question correctly may provide the player with money to spend at an in-game store to help build up their team’s tower and avoid the rising lava. While in another game mode, answering quiz questions fuels the player’s avatar so that it can pursue the opposing team’s flag and capture it.
This new movement of EOQBG platforms like Gimkit and Blooklet is certainly exciting because what really is happening is that multiple games are being played simultaneously. In the first example provided, a quiz game and “The Floor is Lava” are simultaneously being played, while in the second example, a quiz game and “Capture the Flag” are simultaneously being played. This developer approach to EOQBGs will certainly keep this type of online gaming exciting and interesting to players for the foreseeable future.
An Overview of Gimkit (De Groot, 2022b)
An Overview of Blooket (De Groot, 2022a)
As technology advances and its presence in the learning environment increases, so to will the presence of educational online quiz-based games (EOQBGs). Educators are encouraged to familiarize themselves with this type of learning activity and technology, as there are many benefits to be had by both the educator and learner. EOQBGs are not without their drawbacks and these should be carefully considered by educators prior to their integration in a learning setting. EOQBG developers are incredibly creative with their platforms and the complexity of these games is constantly increasing, which may lead to even more enjoyable and educational experiences by players. EOQBGs, when used properly, are certainly not a gimmick and have without a doubt established themselves in the world of education technology.
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