The Computational Thinker and eSports

This image shows a student expressing the look of a computational thinker.

The Computational Thinker standard contains future-ready skills necessary for our students to engage in a connected world. This fifth standard of the 2016 ISTE Standards for Students requires foundational technology skills expressed through participation in eSports. Previously, I have written about the first four standards. The Computational Thinker standard states:

Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions.

Looking at eSports through the lens of the game League of Legends, this standard shines. If you have never watched a League of Legends match, watch a minute of game play.

What you are witnessing are hours of defining and solving problems, and using technological methods to develop and test solutions. Therefore, this game really begins to embody this standard. And the richness is further seen in the standard indicators.The first indicator of the Computational Thinker standard is:

Students formulate problem definitions suited for technology-assisted methods such as data analysis, abstract models and algorithmic thinking in exploring and finding solutions.

Re-read this indicator and re-watch the embedded YouTube video. What you are seeing is 5-on-5 real time chess. Good game play is not random. It involves hours of practice, coming to a match with a plan, and having an ability to quickly analyze the current state of the game and adapt to defeat your opponents.

The second indicator complements the first, and occurs in-game or in practice. It states:

Students collect data or identify relevant data sets, use digital tools to analyze them, and represent data in various ways to facilitate problem-solving and decision-making.

In a post that focused on the Knowledge Constructor standard, a list of resources to analyze League of Legends data was shared. Riot Games, the creators of League of Legends, also conduct their own analysis because they track “the exact number of times every player in the world uses their abilities in-game.” This depth of meaningful data for those who competitively play the game is invaluable. It is necessary to develop the skills to analyze it all into meaningful representations.

Additionally, the third indicator focuses on data analysis and breaking the problem down to component parts, usually through meaningful practice (or through unstructured play).

Students break problems into component parts, extract key information, and develop descriptive models to understand complex systems or facilitate problem-solving.

The fourth indicator of the Computational Thinker standard is one of the trickier indicators to connect to League of Legends. The indicator says:

Students understand how automation works and use algorithmic thinking to develop a sequence of steps to create and test automated solutions.

This indicator I will have to defer to the global community for an idea how to do this. Riot Games is developing a sandbox tool to allow League of Legends players to practice effectively without need to play a full match. This tool will be a central place to test solutions to problems.

The Computational Thinker standard has a lot of application to League of Legends. In reviewing five of the seven ISTE Standards for Students, it baffles me schools are not embracing eSports. Consequently, there are meaningful experiences for educators to tap to prepare our children for a connected world.


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Reference

Thinking” by Miroslav Vajdic is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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