Week 8: What Minecraft game could you create that would help students learn?

I have had little experience with Minecraft except for my son using the i-phone version.  Even then, I was not interested in what he was doing in the least.   I have to admit I am impressed with everything you can do with Minecraft in the article “Ideas for Minecraft in the Classroom” by Andrew Miller.  Some of the educational examples he gives include: to tour real buildings, practice ratio and proportions, learn survival skills, improve  visualization and help with reading skills. The real tours and survival skills examples have really good graphics.  The graphics in an article about how to play Minecraft by Minecraftopia are very poor. It is good to know that the quality of the games vary depending on the world you are in.

The reason some people give on why teaching through Minecraft is effective are similar to reasons given for other emerging technologies.  They include:

  • Promote creativity
  • Increased motivation
  • Ability to express themselves
  • Fun
  • Builds self esteem by being successful
  • Problem solving

In the “Frequently Asked Questions” area of the Minecraft Education Edition website they actually give some different reasons on why to use Minecraft in education.  They include:

  • It provides opportunity to focus energy
  • It helps lead to increased brain plasticity
  • Improved spatial reasoning
  • Improved strategic planning
  • Improved working memory
  • Improved motor skills

Of course, my science geek children keep reminding me that correlation does equal causation and things can be statistically significant, but have no real meaning. The point of that sentence is that I don’t know how valid those claims are, but I appreciated that they referenced real research and they provided different reasons for using their product.

I admit that Minecraft will probably be effective in motivating students.  When I was teaching computer applications classes students were motivated to use creative programs and games.  Of course, in my day Hyperstudio and Oregon Trail was the big thing.  (I wonder if I will get bonus points for mentioning those old programs?)

To answer this weeks essential question I am going to suggest that students at my school try to make a 3D proportional copy of our school in Minecraft.  Our school isn’t huge in student numbers, but we have a big school that has a non-traditional design.  Students and parents who first enter our building can get lost.  The student who comes up with the design that comes closest to our actually building layout would have their creation posted where new students and visitors could use it to find their way in our building. Each year we could compete to improve on the last 3D model.

On a side note, I wonder if what education is trying to do with technology is to replace experiences and understanding that would normally come from parents and a normal upbringing.  Low social economic status, abusive and neglectful families and unsafe neighborhoods lead to stunted development.  These games seem to be targeted to helping these students catch up while allowing other students to excel.  I think this is a good proposition and a worthwhile pursuit.

Resources

Miller, A. Ideas for Using Minecraft in the Classroom. Edutopia. Retrieved on 7-6-16 at 10:00 pm.  Found at http://www.edutopia.org/blog/minecraft-in-classroom-andrew-miller

Frequently Asked Questions. Minecraft. Retrieved on 7-5-16 at 10:02 pm. Found at http://education.minecraft.net/faq/.

Ossola., A. Teaching in the age of minecraft. Retieved on 7-5-16 at 10:00 pm.  Found at  http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/02/teaching-in-the-age-of-minecraft/385231/.

How to play minecraft. Minecraftopia. Retrieved on 7-5-16 at 10:00 pm.  Found at http://www.minecraftopia.com/how_to_play_minecraft.

 

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By waclawskid

4 comments on “Week 8: What Minecraft game could you create that would help students learn?

  1. The math that building a model of your school would take would really sharpen the skills of your students. Great idea. Also, the citizenship aspect of building a model to help visitors to your school is to be commended. I think the more we can get our students to think about others, the better neighbors we’ll have in the future.

    I’m intrigued by your comment about a “normal” upbringing. I feel like I know what you mean, but I also feel like the “normal” you may be referring to is no longer the norm. So many children deal with issues like the ones you mentioned, low SES or lack of care or attention at home, that we as teachers have to be super aware of those needs of our children in our classrooms and try to help in any way we can to be sure those basic needs are met first. I never before considered that this could be connected to especially helping out those kiddos. If we can provide an environment and activity that stimulates our students’ brains while also being enjoyable and validating the way their unique mind works, why not? Minecraft is a great way to do that.

    • Tricia,
      I agree that the word “normal” was not the proper word to use. Maybe traditional or “Leave it to Beaver” idealized upbringing. You are probably right that it is no longer the norm.

  2. Your final paragraph about the role of gaming in schools in relation to socioeconomic status, etc, is really interesting! I think that nowadays even students who are poor or neglected have access to so much tech at school and it is so embedded into the understanding of young people that they find ways to stay connected and on top of the current social media and gaming trends. You made a really profound point that I will have to chew on for a while. It could even be a compelling thesis topic (but not for me). Thanks for sharing!

    • I think we need to look at why we use technology and ask ourselves why this works. There are great teachers who are teaching this same material without technology. So my question is, why use this instead of something else. I think Minecraft can work well, but everyone in your school couldn’t use it all the time. It would get old.

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