An Introduction to Minecraft in Education

November 06, 2013
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm PST
By Connected Learning Alliance

What is Minecraft and what makes this virtual world environment so appealing and such a good learning tool for youth?

Key Questions and Comments:

  • (06:42) In simple terms…the best way to describe Minecraft is: it’s basically a big bag of Legos and you never run out of pieces. It’s unlike any other video game out there…because it allows so much creativity.
  • (09:32) The fact that Minecraft came along and broke all the barriers–I think it’s because it wasn’t made for education. It was actually made for creativity and freedom of expression.
  • (11:20) I don’t hear very often that video games are used in the classroom, why is this one an exception? Why are teachers embracing it?
  • (15:42) I think it’s become popular because, even though we have a curriculum to teach (which actually restrict what we can use sometimes), Minecraft is so moddable and so editable that we can actually make it do what we want it to do with our students.
  • (19:17) The way that we use Minecraft (the four teachers part of GamingEdus) is inquiry-based learning: we don’t really set the curriculum as to what the kids are going to learn…we let the students lead the learning with their explorations in the game. We, as teachers, are on the side to facilitate the learning.
  • (21:45) Liam touched on something that’s really, really important when it comes to using games like Minecraft in schools: you need to have a reflection piece. That’s where a lot of learning goes on. If you’re going to shoot for specific learning objectives, you need to have that reflection time to get kids to think about what they just learned.
  • (25:04) That whole piece around modeling social skills (or social agreements) before they get in [to Minecraft]. Before our kids come on the server, we co-create the agreements of the space. When stuff does happen, teachers have a way to refer back to it.
  • (28:08) A lot of people ask me, ‘How do I get started playing Minecraft?’ The big thing, I would say, is try to find someone like a buddy, a mentor, or a coach…and just play for fun. Get together on the weekends, and just game it out.
  • (31:44) I have parents asking me, ‘Where do I go to get my own server for my kid and his friends?’ How do you go about doing that? Are there virtual instances somewhere? Are there hosters where you go in and pay a couple bucks a month?
  • (33:35) If there are any teachers who are looking to try the game out, just check out GamingEdus.org. We run a server for brand-new teachers to come and check out the game and see how it plays. And children come and play, too, so it’s a real mixed-age space.
  • (39:13) Minecraft is the engagement piece. It’s the piece that’s going to get your students–particularly, those hard-to-reach students–excited about the unit you’re doing. The real learning is all the maps or the writing that they’ve done outside of the game, walking you through their build…
  • (41:05) What do the parents think about you guys including Minecraft at school? Do they think it’s a waste of time? Do they embrace it?
  • (43:57) The fact that Minecraft is such a part of kids’ lives is a reason why we should be using it in schools.
  • (46:59) If there are any parents watching, come join us over the next month in our server, start building and playing with us, and then I think it will kind of ‘click’ with you.
  • (49:56) Can someone explain the difference between Minecraft and MinecraftEDU?
  • (54:22) I just want to encourage people to play Minecraft, and discover it, and do your own thing with it. Go in, blow some stuff up, make some art, and just have fun with the game. Take it wherever you want it to go.
  • (55:40) If we wan create some interesting lessons that can teach some of the standards while having fun, that’s going to really change education. That’s what we’re all here for.

From this Series:

View the Conversation
During the broadcast, the conversation also took place on Twitter using the hashtags #connectedlearning and #minecrafteducation.

Guests for this webinar included:

  • Randall Fujimoto – educational game designer/instructional designer at GameTrain Learning
  • Rick Moffat – educational technology expert and Senior Technical Consultant at Temple University
  • Tara Tiger Brown – Director of Awesome at HOMAGO.com
  • Tim Young – graduate student at U.C. Irvine; researcher with the Connected Learning Research Network
  • Liam O’Donnell – External Collaborator at Ryerson University’s EDGE Lab; Founding Member of GamingEdus.org
  • Colin Gallagher – teacher at the ISS International School in Singapore; creator of “Minecraft Minechat” YouTube series

Resources for this webinar:

Photos/Gaming Educators (gamingedus.org)

#ConnectedLearning Discussion on Twitter

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