In education, people are accustomed to building out and supporting instructional programs, athletic teams, or standard extracurricular activities, but they struggle when something new comes along. If there’s a new set of standards for math and we’ve got to revamp our program, we might revisit the most recent research, begin our instructional materials adoption process, find additional supplemental materials and manipulatives that align, build out a scope and sequence, implement a new professional development series, build out the courses in our learning management system, and plan for a system of ongoing support for our work.
So many esports programs begin when someone in a school or district has a passion for gaming and feels ready to begin. We throw the kids and the coach into a room with computers after school and… done! Right?!
Here are 5 aspects of esports programs that are often forgotten or left behind and some questions for each that we need to consider to build a successful program.
Are we building an actual esports curriculum and specific courses that will support our program?
How can we weave this in where we are teaching digital citizenship, media literacy?
Which of our existing CTE, magnet, or innovative programs have curriculum that supports this work?
2. Career Pathways
Are we being intentional about the pathways beyond gaming that can be involved in our program?
Are we making the myriad career pathways that stem from esports clear to our students and providing access to opportunities?
How does this impact our community and vendor partnerships and how might we leverage them to benefit our program?
3. Scope and Sequence
How does this fit within an overall plan for esports for the district or are we just thinking about this as a random act of gaming?
Are we going to scaffold our program (i.e. Minecraft Education Edition at elementary, Rocket League and Super Smash at Middle, and League of Legends and Rocket League at High School)?
What are our pathways to success? Will there be a Practice Squad, JV, and Varsity?
4. Coach and Player Development
What are our plans to address the growth of our program other time by developing our coaches?
How do we plan to develop additional skills beyond the games and healthy digital habits for our students?
Are we leveraging existing (and amazing) resources like those provided by NASEF to build systems or support for our coaches and students?
We may be able to fund our initial push, but how do we ensure funding for the future of the program?
What community and business partnerships can we leverage that might benefit from students building the skills that come from a sustained, successful esports program?
How might we build capacity in our leadership and staff to make sure that our program isn’t dependent on one enthusiastic person?