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The Global Search for Education: Let’s Play!

“We already have over 60 million games on the Kahoot! platform, most of which are user generated, and we want to encourage content makers to create more content in different formats — which is similar to Netflix’s model.” –  Sean D’Arcy

Kahoot’s journey began in 2012, when founders Morten Versvik, Johan Brand, and Jamie Brooker, along with Norwegian gaming professor Alf Inge Wang and entrepreneur Åsmund Furuseth, put their heads together to innovate the notion of fun learning. The founders, according to Sean D’Arcy, the head of Marketing, felt that most learning in education systems lacked “the playfulness factor.”  Hence, they wanted to create a game-based product that would make learning “a more social, playful and engaging experience.”

In March 2013, Kahoot! was launched and became available to the public. Since then, the company has been focusing on turning game-based learning into a pop culture phenomenon.  Today the platform has over 2 billion players participating in more than 200 countries.

The Global Search for Education invited Kahoot’s Head of Marketing, Sean D’Arcy, to learn more about the company’s journey to engage learners around the world.

Sean, Kahoot! has described itself as the “Netflix of Education.”  Tell us where you see the parallel?

With the launch of our Kahoot! Ignite accelerator program, we are assembling a diverse family of apps to join us on our journey to make learning awesome. Recently, we announced the acquisitions of DragonBox, which helps kids learn math, and Poio, which facilitates children’s ability to read.

In the future, we will bring similar apps and products under Kahoot!, making it a trusted source for premium educational content for schools and teachers, parents and organizations. We already have over 60 million games on the Kahoot! platform, most of which are user generated, and we want to encourage content makers to create more content in different formats — which is similar to Netflix’s model. We believe this will lead to even greater innovations and garner more creativity to make learning fun and engaging. We are in the midst of an industrial revolution that is changing our world at dramatic speeds – technology is helping to create hundreds of new, innovative models of learning.

Technology continues to expand its role in traditional learning environments particularly for brands that understand the needs of the end consumer – do you believe we will see a learning shift to online/interactive environments any time soon?

Technology is becoming more and more important in 21st century classrooms, where students can learn from anywhere at any time and have access to the world’s information. In the future, traditional classrooms will continue to exist, but they will be supported with the use of interactive and social learning environments so that they can accommodate all kinds of learners and make learning a fun, gamified experience.

Kahoot! is special and will continue to thrive because it makes learning awesome and dynamic. Users learn even without even realizing that they are learning in the process of having fun! Our easy to use format and accessibility have helped us become one of the fastest growing learning brands with over 2 billion players since 2013.

What are the important lessons Kahoot! has learned from educators so far?

In the education world, we have learned that community is incredibly important! We love our educators and trainers and are always looking for ways to improve their experience on the platform. In fact, we are rolling out many of the top requested features to our users this fall!

With our new creators, users can create kahoots more easily and 3x faster than before, and they will have newer formats to present and play Kahoot! We are really proud of this collaborative effort within our community.

We are also proud to have more than 5 million teachers, hundreds of millions of students, 5 million parents and 20 million corporate users of our platform without any advertising or marketing budgets but just through word of mouth and pure virality of the product.

What have been the greatest challenges you faced? What lessons did you learn?

We made a decision to grow the user base with a free product and began monetization only in 2017. We were growing fast but it took some patience before we reached critical mass of users and our transition from being a free product to monetization was challenging.

Now, our focus is more on building up the business to handle user growth and stand independently so we can invest in future product development.  Along the way, we learned that the highest priority is to always keep our customers and users top of mind and deliver on a product that brings value to them. The monetization and users will follow in due course.

What are you working now for the future?

Kahoot! is building the leading learning platform in the world by assembling a dynamic family of learning apps and products. We’ve joined forces with two learning apps, Poio and DragonBox for reading and math respectively.  Both apps have large followings and we are excited to grow their audience globally. In the future, Kahoot!’s offerings will be split in the following groups: Kahoot! at school, Kahoot! at home and Kahoot! at work. We will go beyond the classic Kahoot format and offer many other ways to play and more content that make learning awesome!

C.M. Rubin and Sean D’Arcy

Thank you to our 800 plus global contributors, teachers, entrepreneurs, researchers, business leaders, students and thought leaders from every domain for sharing your perspectives on the future of learning with The Global Search for Education each month.

C. M. Rubin (Cathy) is the Founder of CMRubinWorld, an online publishing company focused on the future of global learning and the co-founder of Planet Classroom. She is the author of three best-selling books and two widely read online series.  Rubin received 3 Upton Sinclair Awards for “The Global Search for Education”. The series which advocates for all learners was launched in 2010 and brings together distinguished thought leaders from around the world to explore the key education issues faced by nations.

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