How Online Games Stack Up for Hybrid Lessons

Even with this switch to hybrid and virtual learning this year, games continue to be a fun way to review content and motivate students.  Unfortunately, though, some of our favorite online games are little more challenging to play in the hybrid setting, where some students may not be able to see clearly what I've projected on the board and need the information on their own personal screen.  I've reviewed some of the most popular review games here and how well they function in a hybrid setting.  I will say that these observations come from my own experience with my personal hybrid setup.  I know everyone's hybrid setup is a little bit different, so I'll share mine with you:  students in the room can see the Smart Board.  Students at home can see it, but they can't read smaller print.  If there's something on the Smart Board that isn't written in huge letters, students at home need to be able to access it on their own device to read it clearly.  That means some activities and games work better than others in this setting.  Here are how some of the most popular games stack up:

Gimkit Classic
This is a breeze to play in the hybrid (or virtual) setting.  Students have all the information they need on their own personal screen, so while I project the leaderboard and results on the Smart Board, students do not need to be able to read it.  With the ability to set the time limit, this works well for a quick review or a longer game.  Click here to read previous posts about Gimkit.

Gimkit's Trust No One Mode
This new mode is based on the popular game "Among Us."  I've only played it in a couple of classes, but it requires a little more class time to be set aside.  Essentially, most of the students are given the role of crewmates on a spaceship, and they have to figure out which two of their classmates are imposters.  To find that out, they run investigations on each other, and then discuss and vote off the people they think are imposters.  In order to run investigations, they must answer questions correctly to get power.  The imposters can use their power to pose as crewmates and throw their classmates off.  On the one hand it's very engaging, and students love it.  On the other hand, I feel like the students are more focused on finding the imposters and the review sort of takes a back seat to that.  As for how it works in the hybrid setting, since only some of my students are on the Zoom call, it's hard for them all to discuss together who they think the imposter is unless the students in the room join the Zoom call as well.  I usually just let them have two separate discussions and share with each group what the others have said before allowing them to vote.  There is some information on the screen that students need to see at the beginning of the game, but I read it aloud for the students at home who can't see it very well.  All in all, this game can certainly be enjoyed in a hybrid setting, but I'd say it's a little better suited to a 100% in person or 100% virtual setting unless you choose to have all your students join the video call, which takes additional time.  Click here to read more about the Trust No One mode.  Update:  I just learned that the Trust No One mode has been pulled from Gimkit.

Kahoot is an old standard.  It's one of the first teacher-led online games that I remember using in my classroom when we first got iPads to share.  Unfortunately, Kahoot just isn't well suited to a hybrid or virtual setting.  Students must view the questions on the Smart Board, and since the students at home can't see the board very well, that means all my students must join the Zoom call and I must share my screen there.  It really requires students to have an additional device such as a phone to play efficiently, because otherwise they must toggle back and forth between Zoom and their browser where they submit their answer, which is frustrating in a timed game.  I do still play it though, for a few reasons.  First, I like to use a variety of different games so things don't get stale and Kahoot is a bit different from a lot of the other games in that it's teacher-paced.  I like to be able to pause and go over each question in between.  It also gives you a breakdown of how students did on each question.  With Gimkit, you don't really know which questions students are struggling with and you don't have an opportunity to go over the answers.  Additionally, I have years worth of Kahoot games created, and it would take hours to convert them all to Gimkits or another game which works a little bit more smoothly for hybrid.  Since Kahoot does have some advantages over other games, I will still continue to use it.  I'm hoping the folks at Kahoot come up with some more options to facilitate playing this game in a hybrid or virtual setting. Click here to read previous posts about Kahoot.

Quizlet Live
Quizlet Live is awesome.  Now that they let students play as individuals, instead of as teams, which is very difficult in a hybrid or virtual setting, it's a quick, easy way to review at the end of class.  Other than the login code, students have everything they need on their device, so it's easy for students both in the room or at home to play.  My only wish is that they would make the game longer than 12 questions.  Sometimes it goes a little too quickly!  Click here to read previous posts about Quizlet Live.

Nearpod's Time to Climb
Time to Climb is a game built into Nearpod.  If you are already doing a Nearpod lesson, it's a quick and easy way to review.  On the one hand, students have all the information they need right on their device, so it's great for hybrid.  On the other hand, you can't even review the questions unless you end the Nearpod session and open it up in preview mode.  What's more, the writing is super tiny, so students watching from home, and even most of the students in the room can't see it on my Smart Board.  So it depends on what I'm reviewing whether or not I find this game useful.  If I really want students to follow along as I go over the answers, this is not the ideal game.  Click here to read previous posts about Time to Climb.

Quizizz has gained a lot of popularity lately.  Like Gimkit, it's self-paced, but there are a limited number of questions as opposed to a time limit.  The students don't need to see the teacher's screen, making it a good choice for hybrid.  The teacher can easily see how each student is doing while the game is in play, which makes it easier to keep tabs on the students at home and if they are on task.  My only complaint is, again, if I go over the answers, the students don't see them on their personal devices, and the writing is too small for students at home to see on the video.  It is easier to see than Time to Climb, though.  Click here to read previous posts about Quizizz.

Blooket is the latest game everyone is talking about.  It's a lot like Gimkit, except it has some really unique game modes that spice things up and make it more fun for the kids.  Some of the power ups are goofy and get kids laughing.  I'm not seeing how it really stands out from all of the other existing games in terms of features, but I'm starting to use it with my students, again, for variety's sake.  Sometimes a game can be really fun, but if you play it too much, the novelty wears off, so it's nice to switch things up and Blooket accomplishes that.

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