Can incorporating eSports bring value to your CS Classroom?

Hello MS World! 

What value, if any, can eSports bring to the CS program we offer at my school? (If you’re unfamiliar w/ eSports, check out this video for a brief intro). That’s the question I was wrestling with after met Ryan Kim, the owner of N1 Athletics, an eSports gym that recently opened here in Chicago. I’m constantly thinking (as are many of you!) of ways to engage my students and get them interested in CS, and with the meteoric rise in eSports (described here and here), 

He shared the mission of N1 Athletics with me, and it challenged the lens through which I viewed eSports. If anything, it reminded me that the 2P’s and 3C’s (Problem solving, persistence, collaboration, creativity, and communication) can be practiced in almost any setting, and that alone can be a valuable experience. 

Practically, we decided on the following: 

  • A one day event (9a-3p) with max 20 students 

  • We decided to make it an event open to students from my school, as well as our partner schools. Our partner school network has had many different collaboration opportunities over the years, such as our Hackathon and our Uptown Mosaic Camp, and this felt like it needed to be collaborative as well

  • We decided to use League of Legends as the game that was taught. Although Fortnite was another game that could have been offered, there has been enough concern over Fortnite’s popularity (and kids’ addiction) from the parent community that we didn’t want this event to be overshadowed by that 

  • N1 provided 5 staff members, but my school has a small network of high school students that are really into League of Legends. We asked the high schoolers to come out and serve as coaches as well. They were able to get their community service hours for helping. 

We looked for other ways to “add value” to the event. Here are some choices we made: 

  • We included a computer building activity - Students were split into two groups, were given parts of a computer, had to do a little research on what that part did, and then built it with the help of one of the N1 coaches (CSTA standard 1B-CS-01) 

  • We had different challenges throughout the day - Whether it was a 1v1, 2v2, or Last Hit challenge, we were looking for ways to get the kids to interact with each other, share strategies, and work together

Overall, we had a great first event. Some reflections: 

  • Still need to even the gender gap - We had 16 boys and 4 girls. Makes us wonder - why didn’t as many girls sign up? What can we do to make the next eSports event more welcoming to our young ladies? 

  • What other ways can we tie eSports to our current CSTA standards? - The computer building event was a great way to really tie the event to some standards, but are there other ways that will also make sense / have clear connections to the overall event? 

  • How could we have encouraged / called out the 2P’s & 3C’s, even more? - Students have a hard time “thinking about their thinking”, but helping them do that can have benefits beyond the classroom 

  • We need to have another event - We conducted a post event survey, and every participant rated the event a 4 or 5 to the question, “Did you enjoy the event?” Other survey questions were similarly positive

  • Connecting eSports to an actual lesson in my CS classroom may not be the best route for me, but it lends itself well to an after school or weekend activity for students 

Here's the slide deck we used.  In addition, this was our schedule

In your opinion…

  • Can incorporating eSports in your CS curriculum be of value? 

  • Are there other ways in which you can see how to tie eSports to CSTA standards? 

Have a great weekend!