Online quizzes and games are seeing a surge in popularity during the coronavirus lockdown the world over, and India is no exception. Inspired by the Bournvita Quiz Contest, which began as a live event in the 1970s, but really became a household name when it started to be aired every Sunday on television in the ’90s, Bengaluru-based Walnut Knowledge Solutions is organising quizzes for families stuck at home.
For the last six Sundays, the group has brought together families for hour-long tournaments conducted via Zoom. Quiz questions range from cinema, history, trivia to even Covid-19.
The quizzes are a part of Walnut’s flagship learning workshops called Qshala. They have clearly proved to be a success, as the first edition saw a turnout of 50 families, and the number quickly climbed up to about 2,550 of them joining in on a single weekend.
Word first spread through the company’s network in Bengaluru — students, parents, society Whatsapp groups — and soon, participants from even Norway, Japan, Denmark, UAE and the US started signing up for the virtual quizzes.
Perfect bonding time
The Qshala quiz is an hour-long affair, with three separate quizzes — two are conducive to Indian timings and one is an international edition, and they have different difficulty levels for different age groups of kids, and there should be a minimum of two people per team.
“Our questions are fun, light and accessible, requiring very little prior reading or preparation. They’re also contextual and relevant to the times,” Walnut founder Raghav Chakravarthy tells thePrint.
The first round consists of regular text questions aided by an image, which require a one- to two-word answer. The second round is a lateral visual connection, with several different seemingly unrelated images displayed on the screen — participants answer by giving us a theme connecting all the images. (For example, What connects Steve Jobs, Himachal Pradesh, William Tell and New York City? Ans: Apple!).
The final round is conducted via online gaming platform Kahoot, a popular game-based learning platform, in which participants answer a series of timed multiple-choice questions concurrently.
The quizzes are competitive, with the first 20 families to answer every question correctly winning cash prizes or gift coupons, and the registration is completely free. Recent editions of the quiz also allow winners to donate their prize money to a charity working to combat Covid-19 or its impact.
Satvik, a Bengaluru-based student, explains that the Kahoot round requires one to be “correct and fast”, and it is very important for all family members to sit close to each other and collaborate to work out the questions being asked.
“If you give an answer wrong, you feel like slapping yourself because all the questions are workable and require common sense,” he laughs. “For example, which famous F1 racer’s sir name is inspired by a cobbler? Michael Schumacher!”
For the 15-year-old, the intention is not so much to win as to keep learning more. Stuck at home during lockdown, he is also thrilled to see people from all over the world tuning in for the quiz. “I actually wake up late on most days, but on Sunday, I wake up early, finish all my work and get ready for the quiz.”
Having become somewhat of an expert after years of participating in QShala’s online workshops, thanks to which he has learned the importance of collaboration and problem solving, he is now helping his nine-year-old brother with the junior quizzes and has also got his parents interested.
“My parents want to do the quizzes every week. If we forget, they remind us that we have a quiz.”
Bengaluru-based Rajshri first heard of the Sunday quizzes thanks to her building society’s quizzing Whatsapp group, which, coincidentally, Raghav was once part of. She explains that this group used to conduct their own informal quizzes in the society a long time ago. “We look forward to this [the QShala quiz] every Sunday — it brings together the entire family on a single gadget.”
She enjoys the wide range of content covered by the quiz, including questions relating to the current Covid-19 pandemic, and says the family stays completely engaged for the entire duration of the event. “It’s become a habit now — we finish up our chores on Sunday and sit down at 11.30 for the quiz. We really look forward to it.”
They have taken part in multiple sessions, and have now enrolled their son for QShala’s online workshops, too.
The seed of the idea
Raghav and his partner Sachin Ravi, founders of Walnut Knowledge Solutions, first met while students in law school, where they honed their love for quizzing.
While teaching students at a local school, they toyed with the idea of using quizzing as an educational tool that could potentially integrate lessons from their existing school curriculum. This evolved into the QShala programme, which is essentially a set of workshops designed to engage students, or any participants, in a way that increases their curiosity and fosters critical thinking and problem solving through questions and stories.
“The idea is to use quizzing as a medium to make any subject more interesting and accessible, and to push people to think a little more,” Raghav explains.
Now, they work with a number of schools and corporates to develop quizzing workshops and tournaments. They have even teamed up with the government of Karnataka to conduct Swachh Bharat quizzes in both English and Kannada for every district in Karnataka, and they conduct ConQuest, a quiz on constitutional history with the Centre for Law & Policy Research.
Initially only conducting offline quizzes, they developed a pilot online quiz in October 2019 upon the request of a school principal in Bengaluru whose school was located far out of the city, near the airport. The idea took off, as they received feedback that the online quizzes were as engaging as the offline ones.
This virtual side of their platform has proved to be a blessing during the lockdown, as it gave them the impetus to conceptualise and conduct the QShala Sunday quizzes for families, which have, the founders say, earned interest from a number of private groups and organisations such as HP, Hindustan Lever and Wipro who they claim would also like to engage their employees and their families in the quizzes.
While there are no clear signs of when the current nationwide lockdown may end, the QShala team plans to continue the Sunday family quiz tradition even after this period ends.