In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, traditional education methods are being augmented with innovative approaches to ensure students are equipped with the skills required for the careers of the future. The role of esports in education is growing rapidly, and one of the areas showing real potential is the use of esports in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education. When schools and education institutions embrace the concept of esports in STEAM education, this dynamic combination not only engages students on a new level but also fosters the development of critical skills that are highly sought after in the modern job market. In celebration of STEM/STEAM Day, which will take place on November 8th, join us and keep reading as we explore the idea of using esports in STEAM education in more detail and explain how the two concepts can combine to help prepare students for the careers of the future.
Defining STEAM Education
Before we can cover the connection between esports and STEAM education, it’s important to understand what STEAM education refers to. Essentially, it is an education model that prioritizes science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. This explains the STEAM acronym, and each of those subject areas may be described as a STEAM field.
The STEAM model was based on an existing educational model known as STEM, and the only difference between the two is that STEAM includes the arts alongside the original STEM fields. A major aim of STEAM initiatives is to provide students with the skills required to succeed in the workforce today and into the future. Going further, STEAM initiatives are also intended to encourage greater integration between the different STEAM subjects so that the relevant skills are acquired collectively rather than individually.
Esports in STEAM Education: The Connection
Next, before exploring how esports can be used within STEAM education, we first need to look at the connection between esports and STEAM more broadly. One of the best ways of demonstrating this connection is by looking at the correlation between people in STEAM fields and people who participate in esports.
As an article from Sport Techie highlights, there is a strong correlation between schools that are known for STEAM initiatives and the size of those same schools’ esports clubs. The article also highlights over-representation, statistically, from STEAM majors in esports competitions. When you take the time to think about it, this crossover appeal makes sense because video games rely on technology, use scientific and mathematical concepts, are an example of the arts, and are the product of software engineering and development. As a result, it stands to reason that esports can play a role in preparing students for STEAM fields.
Benefits of Esports in STEAM Education
The potential benefits of schools and other academic institutions utilizing esports in STEAM education include:
1. Building STEAM Skills
Perhaps the most obvious way that esports can help to improve STEAM initiatives is by helping participants to develop skills that are relevant to STEAM fields. As highlighted by a Forbes article, the process of figuring out a video game can help to develop the kind of systematic problem-solving skills associated with scientific methods. Meanwhile, a natural extension of playing games within esports clubs involves teaching students elements of video game design or how to make their own games. This can then help them to develop the kind of skills needed to successfully move into areas like programming, computer graphics, or other aspects of video game design.
2. Improving STEAM Awareness
Another way in which esports can help to boost steam initiatives is through improving overall awareness of STEAM concepts. For instance, understanding of the technology component of STEAM can be improved using gaming PCs or consoles and their associated accessories, including controllers, headsets, and gaming monitors. The technology used is not just going to be related to gaming computers or video game consoles and their accessories. An esports club needs to familiarize itself with video recording, video and sound editing, live streaming, online communications, and even areas like data interpretation, photography, and graphics design.
3. Boosting Inclusion through Esports
Esports in STEAM education has the potential to boost inclusion. This can then ensure that a more diverse group of students are engaged with STEAM concepts. How? One of the ways this can be achieved is through helping to level the playing field when it comes to access to the technology used to play video games. Not all students will have access to a gaming PC or a video games console at home, and an esports club can help to prevent these students from missing out. This is important because the video games industry offers a wide range of career options, while esports is also becoming a more viable career path to pursue.
Challenges of Using Esports in STEAM Education
There are two big challenges encountered by educators attempting to use esports in STEAM education. The first big challenge is a lack of buy-in from school decision-makers and a lack of enthusiasm from parents who may have negative perceptions about esports. Much of this skepticism comes because of media stories about video game addiction or because people fail to understand how playing video games can have academic value. In both cases, the best ways to challenge these views are to highlight success stories from other schools and explain the benefits of esports for developing STEAM skills.
The other major challenge educators are facing relates to funding. After all, a competitive esports club is going to need high-quality equipment, including gaming computers, gaming monitors, headsets, controllers, and more. When making a case for funding, it may be worth highlighting the fact that esports is increasingly viewed as a real sport and that funding for traditional sporting activities in schools is usually considered a priority.
How Esports Can Help Non-Video Game Players
Despite claims that 91 percent of American children aged between 2 and 17 now play video games, the reality is that interest levels can vary significantly, and a lot of children are not interested enough that they would like to play competitively against other schools. Nevertheless, they may still have a role to play in an esports club.
The esports club within a school or other academic institution may need a wide range of people with different skills and interests. There could be a need for logo designers, uniform designers, and photographers, while the club’s social media accounts can also potentially be placed under student control. This is significant because it means that the various benefits associated with the esports club with regards to STEAM education are not limited solely to those who are interested in playing video games competitively.
Summing It All Up
The fusion of esports and STEAM education exemplifies the exciting potential of merging seemingly disparate concepts to create a holistic and forward-thinking educational experience. As the esports industry continues to thrive and the demand for STEAM expertise grows, this innovative approach could be a game-changer helping students develop skills related to science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics, and in shaping the future workforce.
(From the editor: Parts of this blog were originally published on ViewSonic Library.)