Esports Can Benefit the Educational Sector by Improving Student Skills and Engagement, says Info-Tech Research Group

The value of esports is especially prevalent at the post-secondary level for student development, recruitment, and retention.

Esports is an activity where video games are played competitively by professionals and is a growing trend in the education sector. Esports is popular among a wide range of students, including those that may not be interested in traditional sports and may otherwise see little extra-curricular involvement on campus. As many professionals and IT teams in education may be unfamiliar with esports, Global IT research and advisory firm Info-Tech Research Group has published a new industry blueprint titled Develop and Mature an Esports Program in Education to address this emerging opportunity.

Within education, esports is considered a full K-20 activity, with the potential to span the entire academic journey of most students. For universities, developing ties with local high schools via esports can also offer a recruitment channel through scholarship programs to find students with high academic potential. As well, esports can have a positive impact and improve student retention for the following reasons:

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1.      Many students are engaged in esports.

2.      Many gamers are not yet otherwise engaged on campuses.

3.      Esports can offer multiple points of entry, creating a very diverse group

Esports often develops in an ad-hoc fashion, but without a coherent plan it is difficult to identify initiatives that should be taken and at what time. Info-Tech’s resource explains that although IT will often be involved in the development of an esports program due to the technical nature of its foundation, many within IT and elsewhere in the school, college, or university are unfamiliar with the esports space.

“Despite the lack of physical activity, esports has substantial similarities with traditional sports,” says Mark Maby, research director at Info-Tech Research Group. “This includes its focus on team collaboration and the range of participation, from casual gamers to competitive ‘athletes’ and spectators. These similarities mean that the school or college can leverage their existing athletics expertise to support esports.”

Info-Tech’s research indicates that the concept of esports has the potential to be as popular as traditional sports and can help develop and support essential life skills.

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“The key difference is the technology, and IT is often centrally involved in the development and governance of esports,” explains Maby. “Info-Tech’s research provides the IT department with information on the growth of esports in education, and on how an esports program typically matures. It also helps IT navigate and mature the esports initiative at their district or institution.”

Although adoption is still in the early stages and lacks governance of traditional sports, by leveraging a maturity model, an esports program can benefit educational institutions while minimizing esports’ drawbacks and mitigating organizational challenges.

To learn more about esports within educational institutions, download the complete Develop and Mature an Esports Program in Education blueprint.

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