Mixed Zoom/In-Person Practice

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ValenciaQBowl
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Mixed Zoom/In-Person Practice

Post by ValenciaQBowl »

Has anyone tried running practices in person while also having some players participate on Zoom? At Valencia, considering we pull students from seven campuses around the Orlando metro area, it's tough for all players to make it to an on-campus practice.

I tried a mixed practice once late in fall term, having the Zoom player on a laptop facing me as moderator and having her use Buzzin, while the in-person players obviously used buzzers. Obviously it was hard for the Zoom player to participate on bonuses, and in general it didn't work too well. As it stands, at Valencia we have one in-person practice a week and one Zoom practice, but it would be nice to have players who have transportation issues have a chance to participate in the in-person practice.

I don't imagine there are any magic strategies to make this much better, but I'm curious if others have tried this and have any ideas.
Chris Borglum
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The Favourite
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Re: Mixed Zoom/In-Person Practice

Post by The Favourite »

I haven't hosted in practices, but I did host a tournament in our state format in a hybrid in-person/zoom format. The one thing that was apparent then, and probably here too, was that everyone needs to be using the same buzzer set. If one person is on buzzin.live, you all should be. lag didn't seem to be too huge of an issue for us. I also think you would be better served to put your player in a better position to communicate with the team instead of facing you. Instructing the team in-person to allow the player to help on bonuses, regardless of lag/communication issues or if they've already decided on their answer seems like a best practice here as well.
Tracey Hickman
Rock Creek 12
Redlands 14
Central Oklahoma 16
Coach, Coalgate Schools (OK)
Curriculum Director, Oklahoma Quizbowl Camps
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ValenciaQBowl
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Re: Mixed Zoom/In-Person Practice

Post by ValenciaQBowl »

That's helpful advice, Tracy, thanks!

And it's very interesting y'all did it for an actual tournament. That's something we considered and decided against for our own Florida-only, state CC tournament this March, but considering the current Omicron surge, we may have to reconsider, as some schools may restrict student travel.
Chris Borglum
Valencia College Grand Poobah
joshxu
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Re: Mixed Zoom/In-Person Practice

Post by joshxu »

My high school team had mixed Zoom/in-person practices for about a month last spring with mixed success. When we played with the configuration described in the OP, we likewise found it difficult to impossible for the online players to hear the in-person players conferring; if instead the device was rotated to face the players, I imagine that it would've been hard to hear the moderator. I suppose having multiple devices in the in-person game room connected to Zoom could help solve this problem, with separate devices being used for the reading of questions and conferring. In general though, we kind of avoided this problem by splitting our teams such that one was primarily online and the other primarily in-person, though this might not be reasonable if the numbers aren't well balanced. The other big issue as Tracey mentioned is buzzer races; if an online buzz comes in at roughly the same time as an in-person buzz there's invariably going to be some bias here, it's definitely better if everyone is using the same system to buzz.
Josh Xu

Santa Monica High School (Class of 2021, Captain, Team President)
UCLA (Class of 2025)
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benchapman
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Re: Mixed Zoom/In-Person Practice

Post by benchapman »

We ended up doing something like this for PACE last year, because only three of us were able to play in-person at someone's apartment. It was definitely more fun for those of us in person, but it did make bonus conferral much harder. In particular, it was difficult to simultaneously talk to one of my teammates in-person and the person on Zoom, and we probably missed a few bonus parts because of that. We also only had one microphone for the three of us, so there were issues with the computer picking up the right person talking and I had to lean really far in to make sure that my answer was heard. If I had to do it all over again, I would make sure that with a "hybrid" setup like this, you make sure to constantly involve the person/people on Zoom, because it's easy to exclude them since communication is so much harder.
Benjamin Chapman
Hunter College High School '21
University of Toronto '25
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ValenciaQBowl
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Re: Mixed Zoom/In-Person Practice

Post by ValenciaQBowl »

Thanks for the suggestions, all!
Chris Borglum
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quizbowllee
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Re: Mixed Zoom/In-Person Practice

Post by quizbowllee »

We did this last year a good bit. We had a schedule where half the students were at school on certain days and the other half were here on the other days. So, when we practiced, some of the players were here in my classroom and the others were on Zoom. We all used buzzin.live. The very obvious issue was that those playing remotely did not hear the questions at the same time as those who were live. There was always a significant enough delay that it made a difference.

One player summed it up very succinctly when we were debriefing when he said "You guys were buzzing in on clues that I hadn't even heard yet."
Lee Henry
AP English Teacher
Quiz Bowl Coach - West Point High School (Cullman, AL)
President - Alabama Scholastic Competition Association (ASCA)
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