Quiz Bowl Skype Calls

This forum is for discussing tournament formats, question styles, strategy, and such.
Post Reply
User avatar
tksaleija
Wakka
Posts: 225
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:27 pm

Quiz Bowl Skype Calls

Post by tksaleija » Thu Jul 27, 2017 1:14 am

So I'm thinking of replacing some of the in-person practices and meetings with Skype calls. Normally this would be an awful idea, I know, but schedule coordination is near impossible with college and high school classes. I've just got a few questions before I decide:
1) Pros and cons?
2) What do you actually do? (Once you're done communicating info. Do you actually practice?)
3) Any other mediums that can be used to supplement Skype calls?

I'm sure I've got more but these are the big ones.
Aleija Rodriguez
Monroe County Middle College '19
Monroe County Community College '19

ghosebuster2
Kimahri
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:45 pm

Re: Quiz Bowl Skype Calls

Post by ghosebuster2 » Thu Jul 27, 2017 3:18 pm

We sometimes do skype calls down in Texas, so I'll try to answer your questions.

1) Other than the obvious con that Skype practices cannot simulate the team dynamic you get in real life, the main cons I've encountered are technological related. Sometimes people will have bad internet and lag, or will not be able to hear the moderator. As for pros, Skype calls are much easier to execute amid everyone's difficult schedules. In addition, you can invite players from across the state (or nation) to join, this will allow you to have better players in practice and allow you to read hard college questions and play against other good players.

2) Although we do sometimes goof around or just chat on Skype, we do also practice. Normally someone volunteers to read and we use the chat as a buzzer: people type "buzz" when they wish to buzz in.

3) The only alternative I've used to Skype is google hangouts, which generally works just as well.

Hope this helps.

User was reminded to enable a signature.
Raunak Kundagrami
St. John's '19

User avatar
tksaleija
Wakka
Posts: 225
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:27 pm

Re: Quiz Bowl Skype Calls

Post by tksaleija » Sat Jul 29, 2017 12:33 am

After consideration, I realized maybe I should move this to a different area?
Aleija Rodriguez
Monroe County Middle College '19
Monroe County Community College '19

Charbroil
Auron
Posts: 1135
Joined: Fri Jun 09, 2006 11:52 am
Location: St. Charles, MO

Re: Quiz Bowl Skype Calls

Post by Charbroil » Sat Jul 29, 2017 1:41 am

tksaleija wrote:So I'm thinking of replacing some of the in-person practices and meetings with Skype calls. Normally this would be an awful idea, I know, but schedule coordination is near impossible with college and high school classes. I've just got a few questions before I decide:
1) Pros and cons?
I've been running summer Skype practices for the WUSTL team for the past two summers, so I don't think that's an awful idea at all. The pro is obviously being able to practice and also keeping in touch with your teammates. This is especially valuable when you're physically separated from them (though if you still see your teammates in class and the only issue is that you can't practice in person because your schedules conflict, then obviously that's not an issue).

Also, Skype practices allow a wider variety of participants. We've been bolstering the size of our practices this summer with recent graduates, incoming freshmen, and area high schoolers, which would be difficult to do in person.

The con is that you can't replicate the exact experience of practicing with people. This is most apparent with bonuses, where conferring is more difficult because you can't look at your teammates--you have to verbally check in with each of them if you want to make absolutely sure that you've taken their opinions into account.

Also, at least in my experience, practice is more important as a way to practice the process of turning your knowledge into points (recalling the answer and buzzing in effectively, or working with your teammates to recall the answer on a bonus), as opposed to a way to gain new knowledge. (At least for me, I usually have trouble remembering things from practice because I don't have time to reflect on them). Because Skype practices don't replicate the "feel" of being in a game situation, they're a little less effective at practicing those game processes (though I still think they're pretty effective).

Finally, Skype practices are obviously less effective as a bonding experience, because you can't see your teammates. (At the very least, we turn off video calling during our Skype practices due to connectivity issues).

These are the issues we've run into, though since we're a fairly competitive collegiate team as opposed to a high school team, our situation is a little different from yours. For example, I've never had a problem with anyone cheating during our Skype practices, but I'm told it is an issue with some Skype practices. Conversely, it might be easier to learn things at practices at a lower difficulty level since fewer things come up and the things that do come up do so more frequently.
tksaleija wrote: 2) What do you actually do? (Once you're done communicating info. Do you actually practice?)
We spend 2 hours in each of our Skype practices, of which maybe 15 minutes is spent on administrative conversations. Skype practices are usually a little slower than actual practices, so we get through 2-3 packets each practice. Since we usually have 4-6 people at each practice, we practice as one big team of 3-5 players. The moderator will read a tossup, people buzz in when they know it (we allow everyone to buzz, so potentially everyone can neg/buzz in incorrectly), and then the moderator reads a bonus that everyone works together on. (This is the same procedure we use for in-person practices of the same size.) The moderator usually reads a bonus even if the tossup goes dead (which is important when you're practicing for something like Chicago Open where a lot of tossups go dead).

Sometimes, especially when we're practicing on easier questions and we have at least 4 people playing, we split into teams (in which case it's just like regular quiz bowl). In those cases, the aforementioned bonus conferral issues come up (especially since it's hard to keep track of who's on your team since you're not physically sitting with your teammates).
tksaleija wrote: 3) Any other mediums that can be used to supplement Skype calls?
In our first couple of practices, when some people were still getting Skype set up, we sometimes used Facebook Video Chat. Our experience was that it was less reliable than Skype. I'm sure there are other technologies (Discord, etc.) that might work, but I'm not personally familiar with them.

Feel free to email/PM me if you have any further questions.
Charles Hang
Francis Howell Central '09
St. Charles Community College '14
Washington University in St. Louis '19 (President, 2017-19)

Owner, Olympia Academic Competition Questions, LLC
Question Writer, National Academic Quiz Tournaments, LLC and National History Bee and Bowl

Post Reply