Curriculum uses video games to teach life skills

July 2, 2019 | High School Esports League

High School Esports League (HSEL), the largest and longest-running competitive gaming organization serving high school students and teachers, announced the launch of Gaming Concepts, a first-of-its-kind high school curriculum that harnesses students’ passion for video games for academic success. In partnership with Microsoft, Gaming Concepts is now available to teachers everywhere. A primer course is available soon on the Microsoft Education Community, with the complete curriculum available for download from HSEL: http://bit.ly/gamingcurriculum.

Developed and piloted by Dr. Kristy Custer and Michael Russell at Complete High School Maize in Kansas, Gaming Concepts teaches college-and-career-ready skills and social-emotional learning through the lens of video games and esports. Custer, the school’s principal, and Russell, a social studies teacher, both were involved in their school’s HSEL after-school program, and saw the impact organized esports had on students’ engagement and academic performance. They decided to take things a step further by bringing gaming into the classroom itself.

The result is Gaming Concepts: a semester-long elective course, approved for high school credit toward graduation and peer-reviewed by Wichita State University. In the school’s pilot, students who took the course saw, on average, 1.4 points of GPA improvement and 95% or better attendance — strong evidence of the positive impact video games can have on students’ lives when harnessed in an academic setting.

“We’ve known for a long time that bringing students’ passion for games into a supportive, educational environment can be transformative for kids who otherwise might be disengaged or left behind,” said Mason Mullenioux, co-founder and CEO of High School Esports League. “Gaming Concepts is further proof, and we can’t wait to see the impact on students’ lives across the country as it launches on the Microsoft Education Community.”

“Students with chronic absenteeism who do not feel a connection to the school, especially benefit from esports,” said Dr. Kristy Custer, principal at Complete High School Maize and co-author of the Gaming Concepts curriculum. “Eighty-two percent of students on our team had never participated in an extra-curricular activity prior to offering esports.”

“Esports has tremendous potential, both to inspire students to learn 21st-century skills and also to include many students who have previously been marginalized with respect to competitive activities,” said Donald Brinkman, a senior program manager in charge of the Bing Esports team. “This curriculum is designed to teach pro-social and pro-academic behaviors that are positively correlated to better academic performance. All through the lens of esports. We are thrilled to support it.”

About High School Esports League

High School Esports League was founded in 2013 to bridge the gap between competitive gaming and education. Now with more than 1,500 partnered high schools, HSEL aims to help students reach their fullest potential through fun, competitive gaming communities, competitions, and educational opportunities.

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