Har­baugh finds cre­ative way to teach playbook

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Jonas Shaf­fer

Across the NFL, the coro­n­avirus pan­demic has re­duced the league’s off­sea­son pro­grams to a bor­ing bi­nary: all work, no play. With ac­cess to team fa­cil­i­ties lim­ited, play­ers can lift and study and pre­pare, but the ex­e­cu­tion stops there. There’s a playbook, but its pages re­main al­most an ab­strac­tion.

The Ravens are among the teams that have reck­oned with the drudgery. They’ve turned to a learn­ing plat­form so pop­u­lar that even preschool teach­ers have adopted it. Thanks in part to coach John Har­baugh’s daugh­ter, the team’s staff is not just teach­ing play­ers the plays; they are quizzing them on it, too.

With the help of Ka­hoot, an on­line, game-based learn­ing plat­form that al­lows users to build their own quizzes, the Ravens can eval­u­ate play­ers’ progress on tests that un­drafted free agent John Daka likened to midterms. Daka, an out­side line­backer from James Madi­son, had just taken one Thurs

day, his sec­ond this week.

“Rather than just sit­ting there and get­ting lec­tured on a playbook, Ka­hoot’s a good changeup of dif­fer­ent ways to learn and also to cre­ate com­pe­ti­tion, be­cause we’re do­ing it ver­sus each other,” Daka, who also took Ka­hoot quizzes in col­lege, said in a tele­phone in­ter­view. “So they do a great job of just mak­ing learn­ing fun, but at the same time, you’re get­ting ev­ery­thing done.”

Zoom video con­fer­ences have pow­ered the NFL’s off­sea­son pro­grams, but some teams have added their own wrin­kles. Har­baugh told The Wash­ing­ton Post that he be­came in­ter­ested in Ka­hoot when he saw his teenage daugh­ter, Ali­son, us­ing it on her own com­puter. Teach­ers could build a les­son plan around the quizzes, and stu­dents could com­pete to see who was first to an­swer or cor­rect most of­ten.

Pretty soon there­after, the Ravens were play­ing Ka­hoot in vir­tual team meet­ings, test­ing their knowl­edge of scheme in­stalls in a mul­ti­ple-choice quiz, care­ful to se­lect the cor­rect cor­re­spond­ing shape be­fore the gong sounded and time ran out.

“It was new to me,” Har­baugh told the Post. “The guys all knew what it was.”

The Ravens aren’t the only team us­ing Ka­hoot. The Hous­ton Tex­ans and Cincin­nati Ben­gals have also in­te­grated its color­ful ques­tions into their off­sea­son pro­gram. But Daka said the team’s em­brace of the plat­form speaks to the fran­chise’s or­ga­ni­za­tional strengths.

And no, he’s not just say­ing that be­cause he’s done well on the quizzes, ei­ther.

“I’ll say this about the Ravens: The way the Ravens ran their off­sea­son and how they do things, how or­ga­nized they are from the top all the way to the bot­tom, I see why they’re a first-class or­ga­ni­za­tion and why they’re al­ways suc­cess­ful, year in and year out, hon­estly,” he said. “This is not even as a player in the or­ga­ni­za­tion do­ing it. Even if I was a fan, I could see why they’re suc­cess­ful, just be­cause of how or­ga­nized they are and how ev­ery­body’s on the same page.”

KA­HOOT

The Ravens are us­ing the on­line-game plat­form Ka­hoot, pic­tured, dur­ing their vir­tual off­sea­son pro­gram.

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