K-12 Esports Teams Can Give Students College and Career-Readiness Skills

VP K12 Computer Science Products, Carnegie Learning

Esports teams are similar to other, more traditional sports teams in that in addition to physical fitness, kids learn a number of important soft skills. Employers in a wide range of disciplines regularly cite these abilities as being at the top of their recruiting criteria, such as:

  • Communicating and listening well
  • Possessing insights into others (including different values and points of view)
  • Having empathy toward and being supportive of teammates
  • Being a good critical thinker and problem solver
  • Being able to make connections across complex ideas

Tiffany Bui, a biology teacher at Mission Viejo High School, is the general manager for the school’s esports team. “There’s a lot of team-building and problem solving that happens while playing in the league,” she said in a recent interview. “It doesn’t feel like learning to the kids because they’re having so much fun, but they are!

“Through the coaching and development, each student is improving as a person and a player. In just a few short weeks, I’ve watched their communication skills improve, seen them cross language barriers and gender stereotypes to welcome new players to the team, and observed them trying new maneuvers and adjusting their gameplay to adapt to each other’s styles and strengths.”

Colleges Are Recruiting Esports Players

Acer's booth at ISTE 2019
Acer’s booth at ISTE 2019

Schools are starting to develop programs and degrees for esports. Currently over 50 colleges and universities in the U.S. offer scholarship-sponsored esports teams, and that number is growing quickly.

Similar to traditional sports, participation on esports teams are based on the student’s ability in the sport, contributions to teams, and academic grades. The teams are backed by talent scouts, coaches and game analysts. Higher education institutions are often able to secure corporate funding from video game publishers, hardware and software companies, and other local technology firms to fund their esports teams as well as build esports facilities.

Resources For K-12 Esports Teams

The North America Scholastic Esports Federation is a wealth of information to help schools get started with clubs, leagues, and more. Many of the computer hardware companies, such as Dell and Acer offer special hardware setup services for K-12 schools. At the ISTE ed-tech conference which attracts thousands of K-12 educators, a number of the exhibitors were offering esports-specific products.

NACE, the National Association of Collegiate Esports, provides resources for high school students looking to get recruited to college esports programs, as well as other information.

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Image courtesy of Nikki Navta.

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