Africa Electronic Sport Association
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The Role of Electronic Sports in Education

South Africa is desperate to close the gap and remain a relevant and competitive country in the Global Economy, which is fast moving towards automation and everything smart. One of the weaknesses in South Africa’s economy is productivity, and while labour may not want to hear this, reports issued by StatsSA are full of evidence that the country’s productivity has been on a steady decline.

The Sustainable Development Goals and 2030 vision is reliant on a 21st century-ready workforce to fulfil the now and future needs of the country’s workforce.

The workforce of tomorrow will depend on new and innovative methods for teaching and learning. 

What is Electronic Sports?

Esports (also known as electronic sports, Esports, e-sports, competitive (video) gaming, professional (video) gaming, or pro gaming) are a form of competition that is facilitated by electronic systems, particularly video games; the input of players and teams as well as the output of the eSports system are mediated by human-computer interfaces. Most commonly, eSports take the form of organized, multiplayer video game competitions, particularly between professional players. The most common video game genres associated with eSports are real-time strategy, fighting, first-person shooter (FPS), and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ESports

What is the role of Esports in Education?

Over 2.2 Billion people play games worldwide and a large percentage of which, play or watch competitive games across several platforms such as PC, Console or Mobile phones/devices.

Esports has been proven to address several key developmental areas, which is why many schools and universities around the world are adopting it as part of their extra-curricular activities.

What is the role of Coding and Robotics in Education?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is the fourth major industrial era since the initial Industrial Revolution of the 18th century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. It is marked by emerging technology breakthroughs in a number of fields, including robotics, artificial intelligence, blockchain, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, The Internet of Things, The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), fifth-generation wireless technologies (5G), additive manufacturing/3D printing and fully autonomous vehicles - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Industrial_Revolution

How does Coding & Robotics fit into Esports? 

Throughout the world and now trending rapidly in South Africa is coding and robotic competitions between students, schools and universities, commonly referred to as hackathons.

A hackathon is defined as an event, typically lasting several days, whereby many people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming.

During a Hackathon, people spend a short period of time, usually between 24-48h (can go up to a week), building, creating and delivering a product. The idea is to collaboratively code in an extreme manner, to start from scratch and end with a working prototype. It’s often a sort of competition, where teams of programmers, developers, designers and project managers come together to design & build a nice product, a software project.

And Robotics?

Robotics is the “fun” part of coding and is an effective way to learn about computer programming.

In south Africa there are some internationally recognised Olympiads, such as WRO (http://www.wrosa.co.za/) where students compete against each other by building robots to complete designated tasks in a collaborative and competitive environment.

In summation, there are three key components to a well-rounded Esports solution that provides critical 21st century skills for the 4th industrial revolution:

  • Gaming - Learning through Play
  • Coding/Programming – Learning through Computation
  • Robotics – Learning through Making

Benefits for Students

Preparing students for 21st Century success: It should be noted that individuals who play such Esports games are able to better track objects appearing simultaneously and process fast-changing visual information more efficiently. This research was conducted by the University of Rochester and was proven to improve the mindset and thinking abilities of individuals.

The University of Rochester also tested Esports gaming as a stimulus for improving your vision. The ability, called contrast sensitivity function, allows people to discern even subtle changes in shades of grey against a uniformly coloured backdrop. This is also one of the first visual aptitudes to fade with age. Therefore, a regular regimen of Esports game training can provide long-lasting visual power.

  • Transformative: an opportunity to transform students' futures through digital sports and an introduction to technology at an early age.
  • Personalized: There is an Esports/Gaming title for any age, gender race or social background.
  • Adaptive: Analytic backend to identify at risk students early on.

Benefits to Teachers

If students have an emotional connection with the school through a platform such as Esports or any other extramural activity, teachers will have a better response from their students during classroom time.

  • Integrated resources: With the country adopting ICT solutions in schools through the likes of “Operation Phakisa”, students will have a great connection and understanding of education-centric technology using games that make learning fun.
  • Flexible: Esports is an online activity and negates the need for physical travel between schools to compete and play. This is the same for coaches who can connect from anywhere in the country to a school, provided there is an internet connection.
  • Controlled: All technology from a hardware and software perspective are controlled by an I.T administrator, and the same can be applied to PC gaming and Esports.

Benefits to the Economy

Esports and Gaming is a multi-billion-dollar industry world-wide. As it stands, Esports alone is a R20mil industry in 2017 [ref], with start-up companies investing in the broadcasting of events, journalism, competing, event hosting, Multi-gaming organizations (MGO’s)

  • Job creation: Playing, hardware sales and technical support, broadcasting, journalism, event hosting, entrepreneurial
  • Leverages local resources: manufacturers, developers, educators
  • Supports public/private partnerships: governments, municipalities, private enterprise, non-profit organizations – all can work together toward a common goal
  • Educated workforce builds national technology sector.
  • Export opportunities: The power of online, Esports can produce local talent and skillsets within the I.T sector, from Athletes, to broadcast professionals, bloggers, Vloggers.
  • Cost efficiency: The hardware and software and basic infrastructure needs to have an Esports/Gaming facility is a fraction of the cost compared to traditional sporting facilities.

Critical Success Factors

Technology makes it possible to take education systems from good to great, to give all access to quality education using innovative methods such as Esports to provide predictive analytics that drive powerful student improvements.

Esports as a successful method for teaching and learning defines the following areas to be considered:

  • Visionary leadership team to champion and implement change.
  • Professional Development that promotes quality learning and teaching.
  • Sustainable resourcing to include people and funding for long term success.
  • Research and evaluation to guide project improvements and identify best practices.

The critical success factors for the 6 months after implementation are defined as follows:

  • A Robust Technology model: to be defined with regards to essential elements for this environment, including technology support.
  • Learners: Measurable Literacy and numeracy improvement in the group is expected, but also increased levels of engagement with the learning materials and increased school attendance.
  • Educational content: Suitable software bundle to be defined. The library option to be investigated.

For more information on The Role of Esports in Education

ryan@ucanvirtually.com

Facebook: @ParkerEsports

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AESA is an international organization headquartered in South Africa. It was established to promote the development and adoption of Electronic Sports (Esports) in Africa.
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