And we were not the only district to do so. I received reports from other districts that were able to pull off a successful virtual Youth Bible Quiz meet thanks to the inexpensive, yet reliable technology currently available.
For those of you who have yet to have their virtual Teen Bible Quiz meet – or are considering whether or not to do so – following is what we did and what we plan to do differently in October. Learn from us to make your first attempt successful:
- Video call with the coaches the month prior to the quiz meet to brainstorm the best way to quiz given our current circumstances. Decided to use Zoom for video and BuzzIn.live as a proxy for the quiz pads (see related blog post). Also decided that the local coaches would reward their quizzers for achievements (more on this below).
- Local teams used BuzzIn.live during subsequent weekly practices to get familiar with it.
- Quiz Director hosted at least 1 virtual quiz practice with each local team to test their equipment for audio and video quality.
- Scoring and Statistics: Quizmasters kept score using a shared Excel spreadsheet that automatically summarized quizzer and team statistics for awards. This actually worked better than an in-person quiz as I did not have to download and manipulate data after the last match – it was already done! All of the Quizmasters were updating the same file at the same time. // At the Wisconsin district quiz the scorekeeper for each virtual quiz room used QuizMachine to replicate the game manually and then sent the export file to the statistician for analysis at the conclusion of the quiz meet. They also had teams that would normally be on a bye actually play a 1-team game for an automatic win and increased opportunity for individuals to answer questions. The caveat here is that every team needs to have the same number of 1-team games and those "wins" will need to be added manually since QuizMachine does not record the game as a "win" in the totals.
What worked well/Continue to do:
- Coaches had no apparent issues navigating between Zoom rooms. We put the Zoom meeting IDs and passcodes on the schedule.
- Good video connections for the entire quiz. The video quality was especially good for those with excellent lighting. One church used an ethernet connection while all of the others were using the church's WiFi for the Zoom computer. If necessary, I would have allowed quizzers to repeat their answer verbatim, but there were no audio or video glitches throughout the quiz meet. // In Wisconsin, each quizzer used earbuds and connected to the Google Meet video call on their device strictly for the audio. Once connected, they switched over to BuzzIn.live.
- Most locations did not need to mute their microphone since background noise was kept to a minimum. This also helped keep the games moving along.
- Teams still needed to provide a line-up so the Quizmaster knows who should answer Bonus questions.
- Quizzers who stood to answer and then sat down helped the Quizmasters know when they were done answering the question. Good practice for the real quiz, too. I will make this a requirement at the next virtual quiz.
- Overall individual quizzer averages seemed higher than usual and quizzer placement in the Top 10 seemed consistent with prior seasons.
- We now have a viable option in the event of future emergencies (hurricanes, flooding, volcanic eruptions, etc.).
- I will conduct the equivalent of a "light check" before each match to ensure no one is experiencing lag with Zoom or BuzzIn. For each quizzer I will count down from 3 ("3, 2, 1, Buzz!") and watch them press their phone/tablet. If I see them press their device on "Buzz!" and if BuzzIn registers that press at about the same time, I will feel confident to move forward. Should there be video lag I will ask that team to exit and re-enter the Zoom room or switch to a different device for that round. If a specific quizzer has a BuzzIn lag I will have them switch from cellular to WiFi (or the inverse) or close their browser session and retry.
- About halfway through the quiz I stopped toggling ("lock" and "unlock") the buzzers between the end of one question and the beginning of the next. I simply "reset" them at the end of the question. Very few quizzers had trigger fingers and it eliminated the concern by quizzers that the "unlock" command would be delayed getting to their device.
- It was more difficult for me to pick up on quizzer enthusiasm (or discouragement) through Zoom. It could simply be fatigue from being stuck in the same room for the entire quiz. I will encourage the teens to get up and walk around between games to keep fresh and take a break from the computer monitor.
- If a team is not gathered at one location, they need to plan on how to communicate during time-outs
- A couple of times BuzzIn would beep twice when multiple quizzers buzzed in at approximately the same time. BuzzIn would then calculate which quizzer actually buzzed in first (based on their connection speed) and display that for the quizmaster. This confused the quizzers (and the Quizmaster!) who saw their screen change from one quizzer’s name to another. Next month I'll explain that this could happen but rest assured that BuzzIn will display the true results to the Quizmaster.
- Lack of awards for achievement seemed like a letdown to me. While we recognized the Top 10 and such, I miss handing out the medals and seeing their smiles. I asked coaches to supply the awards, so they may have handed out prizes after the quiz meet. I am open to ideas on how we can do this better. Perhaps the coaches can have bags of candy ready to hand out next month as I call out the names? I will also encourage everyone to cheer like we normally do when we announce placements.
I am glad we decided to try quizzing virtually rather than postpone the start of the season. Though it worked well and everyone seemed to have fun, I pray that we only have to do this one more time. Everyone wants to safely get back to "normal" as soon as they can and virtual quizzing is a positive step in that direction.
If you have not yet held your virtual quiz tournament, I hope you can learn from our experience and make your first quiz the best it can be!