19 november 2015

eSport and education

Since September I've been working with a new project: e-Sport (in education). 

Instead of forbid gaming, what if we take advantage of our student’s interest?

e-Sport happens to be the news of the year in Swedish schools this autumn, where sports college and national sports schools in the same way as they train football players, hockey players and so on also now has the focus e-Sport.

In the Finnish vocational school and our curriculum, we can’t ourselves replace a qualification module toward something we want just like that. However we have a small part free courses which students themselves choose, where we can offer studies in e-Sport. To be able to do this, as those free courses also should strengthen professional skills, we have to ask ourselves: What do you learn in a game that would be important skills in both classrooms as in working life?

Now I happen to have one course, this mission, right now, to teach the students to define, plan and document problems. It seems this is very hard and they also give up in an early stage. But, surprisingly, they do exact the same thing when they play a computer game, but in the game they refuse to give up! Why?

For example
At Sunday evening, your team will have an important CS:GO match and it turns out you will play a new custom made map. How do you solve the problem? 

You have a problem, a new map. You search every possible forum of any threads or clues until you get the map. If possible you install it on a local server and you gather your team, you play and explore, you evaluate the teams experience. Maybe you even write down your thoughts and game plan.

This is exactly what we want them to do in the classroom.
What if we confirm this skill in a safe environment? 
Would they be able to take that skill out in the classroom and to working life?
I don't know.
It's worth a try.

And we - Yrkesinstitutet Prakticum - happen to be first! No one has thought about this opportunity before us!

We have put together a mind map, things we believe you would be able to learn through games and e-Sports. All we have to do: stop see problems, start to see possibilities! It sounds easier than it is. Again, the feedback we get from this mind map confirms that we are thinking in a whole new way!

We started this as a learning project within the field of our Datanom (Business Information Technician) education in Porvoo (Borgå) but it quickly changed to something complete different:
A wellness project!!!

SESF, SEUL and Team Menace are all experts we started discussions and collaborations with and they all emphasizing the importance of well-being and physical health: fixed routines, structure of everyday life, diet, sleep and exercise is at least as important as in any other sport.

Teijo Sepponen, CEO of Team Menace gave us this most valuable feedback:

We now have 23 students in this project, people from four different classes. We have one CS:GO team and two teams of LOL (League of Legends). They practice and play matches from home and they get theory and exercise with a personal trainer in school. Both activities generate study points. Everything they do within the project they put in a notebook, a training diary. These three e-Sport teams are also our school teams on equal terms as all other school sport Team Prakticum compete in.

We do have some challenges and it's not strange since we started this directly without directly planning, but with an idea that we learn by doing. We, the two teachers involved (the school's athletic coordinator and I) have also had fully booked calendars with no extra time to start the theory lessons or workout with a personal trainer. As in any other school athletic teams you have both less and more experienced players, add the fact many of these students never been in a team and therefor don't know about team spirit.

For example: 
What it means to be in the school team? Yeah that although you do not have the desire to train, you must still come. 

Today I talked with the third graders (last year students) and they do handle way more than I thought or anyone has thought. They have also taken on the role as educators, to help or explain the younger students. To be able to achieve this normally you have to promote some students as a tutor, here it happened automatically. It does happen a lot between 15-16 years old and 18-21. 

A couple of weeks ago I talked with one Finnish CEO, what kind of skills he want us (Vocational institutes) raise, create and produce. He had a wishing list like this:

One wish is that we train our students so that a worker has not only rights but also obligations

This is actually straight from the above example of what to do when you’re in the school team.

He wants to hire positive team players who can think for themselves, they must be deployable, flexible and loyal. Furthermore understand that the big picture is important and that one can take in and do almost anything. Just because one is employed to program, you might sometimes need to stand on the factory floor. 

This is interesting, because it’s just what happens in a game and e-Sport. Without listed skills above you won’t make it in game. When you get two players out in an ice hockey match, you’re dead. When you get two players out in e-Sport you know you still have a fair chance to win. With two tanks dead in game, the rest of the team change roles to master the new situation.

What if we confirm this skill in a safe environment? 
Would they be able to take that skill out in the classroom and to working life?
I don't know.
It's worth a try.

We have received funding for this year. We now have the opportunity to put our plans into reality. Our players have got (1) a discount card to the city's swimming pool, along (2) with a personal trainer they shall start training at the gym once a week (and (3) get breakfast afterwards) and we’ll also (4) dress them up as a team. Furthermore hire interesting (5) lecturer, hopefully (6) send them to Assembly (with no stress of winning, instead having fun!)

We also like to plant some ideas of sports psychology, goal setting and goal monitoring and team spirit. 
  • What else do you suggest? 
  • Do we miss something important? 
  • What have we not thought of?