Author: Phil McMillan – TELT
Let’s set the scene, you are on the home straight, the medal and all the accolades that come with winning are within sight. You are primed, poised and powering through your rivals, many of whom you considered friends merely minutes prior. Everything hurts but you need to just keep pushing… Then your phone notification pops up, <buzz> <buzz> it says you are 2nd. Worst of all you lost to someone called AquaticKitten at the final hurdle. You sit there broken, palms sweaty, and take off your headset… you just played Kahoot, and you just lost. At least you beat DandyDog and StellarBoa, names that the Kahoot profanity filter probably should have picked up, (Kahoot will auto-name new users – you can type real names after a few games) but your endorphins are at a high, you want to play another game, however you must wait for another seven days as there can be only one crowned TELT weekend champion.
Kahoot is the popular fight-to-the-death website, packaged as a learning tool that allows users to create multiple choice quiz questions. You can add images and videos from YouTube, with the emphasis on the faster you answer the correct question, the more points you get. Participants get immediate feedback on their points total, place in the quiz and how many points they need to progress to the next place. This keeps things competitive, sometimes beaten and often, exhilarating. You even get a live leaderboard after each question (to really rub salt in the wound) and quiz analytics once the quiz is finished, to support learning.
The quizzes have acted as a great weekly team building exercise. Last year, six months into working from home, I started to notice a disturbing trend, firstly that my clothes seemed to be getting smaller (probably due to the washing machine?) and more importantly, that communication within the team was not as strong as it once was. Naturally, after a short lifetime of group chats, daily online meetings and quick video catchups, the fatigue had already set in and the ‘new normal’ was starting to affect the whole team. Chat messages were starting to become misinterpreted, as stress at the busiest time of the academic year meant that replies were short and sharp. The siege days of March and April 2020 where camaraderie was high, were quickly descending into debilitating September chaos. In this new world order, I did what most would do, I tackled the issue from the source… oh wait, <reads notes for this blog> I did absolutely nothing. Nowt. Nada. Leave it be. Nothing meant that I didn’t put stress on the issue. Nothing was fine by me. However, if life has taught us anything, doing nothing is also a lovely way of watching an issue get grander. Nothing was not an option.
The need to bring the team together, and it not be centered around work was a must. Naturally even with the best intentions, after asking how everyone’s weekend is, work talk quickly descends. So, a purpose to meet was vital, and having seen the benefits of quizzes to aid learning and for competitive fun in a classroom environment, I decided to bring back an old friend. The free version gives you enough options to get by, and as previously mentioned it allows you to add YouTube videos (up to 30 secs) and images to you questions, and you can assign a timer and points for each question. I have witnessed firsthand players of all ages battling each other to be first place. However, this Kahoot for the team was different, it was to improve team morale, to make this particular meeting fun and something to look forward to each week.
Days and times of the week are important, they often say dense subjects like mathematics is best taught at the start of the week… so what about a relaxing, destroy everyone at all costs quiz? It was decided that Friday was best, and in the afternoon, at 2pm so that its one of the last things you do in the week. We do a 30 mins running time, with about 20 questions, and this means staff still have time to complete any loose ends afterwards before the weekend starts. It also means that it’s something to look forward to and given its time, most of the team are free. Its a nice way to bookend the week.
Response from the TELT team has been superb, with almost a full house every week since September. Not everyone can make it but as its optional, there is no pressure to attend. Over the last six months we have had special themed quizzes for Halloween and Christmas, encouraging staff to change their backgrounds and dress the part. With the Christmas extravaganza, we mixed it up a bit with some rounds in Kahoot, (Christmas video and song questions) but also used Microsoft Forms (for the picture round), online word search creation websites to make a PDF which individuals then used to draw on and even Flipgrid for an online singing competition at the end. Points were assigned to each round and we had additional points changing your video background to a Yuletide theme, and wearing something festive. It does take time to create the quiz, (there are also pre made ones that you can use – just double check the answers first) but it has been a splendid way for the team to catch up at the end of the week, play a quiz, talk about weekend plans and enjoy each other’s company. Kahoot is highly recommended for all.