E-sports, Esports or eSports?

Which of the above three alternative terms do you prefer for electronic sports? My preference is for the first option, e-sports, which puts me at odds with Innovating Pedagogy 2020, the latest iteration of the annual exploration of new forms of teaching, learning and assessment from the UK Open University (UKOU).

In this 8th edition, the UKOU’s Institute of Educational Technology has teamed up with the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL), Dublin City University to present their chosen ten emerging innovations. Their preference for the term is ‘esports’ (which gives the impression it should be pronounced like ‘Esprit’), wherein they explore learning a teaching through virtual gaming. To be honest I only skimmed this chapter of the report, as I find it a long stretch to imagine e-sports as a making a serious contribution to the future of education.

The full list of innovations for 2020 is:

  1. Artificial intelligence in education
  2. Posthumanist perspectives
  3. Learning through open data
  4. Engaging with data ethics
  5. Social justice pedagogy
  6. Esports
  7. Learning from animations
  8. Multisensory learning
  9. Offline networked learning
  10. Online laboratories

Most are self-explanatory and sensible (e.g. 1 and 10), whole others are a tad pretentious and/or peripheral (I’ll leave you to guess which ones). The issues raised and discussed in 10 Online Laboratories have long challenged distance educators, certain dating back to when I first started in the field and heard about laboratory kits being sent to students in their homes.

Topical example of data sharing

‘Learning through open data’ is a fascinating one, particularly as more and more (and bigger and bigger) data sets are becoming openly available. It is noted, for example, that data associated with the threatening new Coronavirus have been made available to all for analysis and development of solutions. And the often gigantic data sets associated with genetics and genomics are often freely available to researchers. As the authors conclude,

Because it is drawn from real world sources and reflects real issues, open data can provide an authentic basis for learning activities. The breadth of available open data creates opportunities for personal relevance, as learners could find data about their local area, compare their country or region with the rest of the world, or explore an issue that they really care about. Engagement with open data connects learners with a societal movement to encourage greater data literacy, transparency and evidence-based action.

I’ll leave the rest to you – pick and choose whatever appeals. Overall, it’s another good effort from our UKOU colleagues, noting that it’s missing input from our old friend Martin Weller. About time he had a rest from it, I guess.

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