Minecraft, Connected Learning, and Their Impact on the Classroom

November 21, 2013
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm PST
By Educator Innovator

How can Minecraft help students learn not only academic content but also 21st Century learning skills, social-emotional skills, and other non-cognitive skills?

Key Questions and Comments:

  • (05:32) We’re all interested to know: What was everybody’s first “A-HA!” or “light bulb” moment where they went, “Oh! This thing can actually be educational.”?
  • (08:51) My first impression of [Minecraft] was that I thought it looked ridiculous. Nearly half of the teachers I’ve talked to who use Minecraft in the classroom–when they first looked at it as a game, they rejected it…For a lot of those people, it took either a good friend, a kid at home, or Joel Levin himself to get them to take another look.
  • (13:43) Those kids, in order to communicate, had to expand their vocabulary and learn about things that they never would have picked up (or, at least, reluctantly would have picked up) from standard education…They go out anxiously, hungrily to learn more about the vocabulary so they can accomplish a common goal.
  • (15:34) I think it opens doors to changing the way we do education, just by the fact that kids are already doing this stuff. Kids are already teaching themselves tons of things. So, why can’t we have them teach themselves history, and math, and science and all these other things through these other means? I think it sets the stage.
  • (16:22) How do/should teachers ensure that balance between what admin wants (curriculum, tests, assessment) and that freedom of creativity? We all answer to somebody…how do we play with balance?
  • (21:18) We’re doing some projects in MinecraftEDU and then the student write essays reflecting on some of the things that took place there. Or they’re being graded on a demonstration that they do in the game. So, one of the things they had to do was teach the rest of us how to do something in Minecraft…I think you’d probably find over time that they do have retention of the content because they experience the learning rather than being told things.
  • (25:39) Diane, could you give us a 60-second run-down of “Wonderful World of Humanities”?
  • (27:45) “As part of the reflection process for the students at my school, we’re always asking ‘How will you use what you’ve learned?'” What kind of things have you heard from your students about how they’d use the things they’ve learned?
  • (30:38) What percentage of teachers…are comfortable creating their own Minecraft worlds versus those that want someone to develop it for them?
  • (34:38) Minecraft itself has opportunities for learning, but it still requires someone to point when a child has learned.
  • (36:09) Does using Minecraft help motivate students that have struggled [in traditional education environments] in the past? How, and in what ways? Do you see Minecraft as a motivating factor in education?
  • (39:31) A lot of teachers will say it’s not just the subject area, you’re setting up a condition where student are going to get into fights, argue with each other, mine under each other’s houses…For good teachers, that creates an opportunity to talk about property rights, civic behaviors, participatory cultures…
  • (44:25) I’ve seen kids that you would think are too young or a little out of control, and they pull it together and they say ‘OK, we know what civil behavior looks like, we know how to be respectful listeners.’ And they just do it. And kids will do that it you give them the opportunities…that’s what they’re going to need to take with them into the workforce.
  • (46:22) I’ve recently watched my son, he’s 15, deal with people who are anywhere from age 10 to 30. They don’t look at each other as “the 10-year-old”, but they look at that person as “he’s the builder, he does this“…it’s not about an age or a gender, it’s strictly about getting the job done.
  • (49:33) If [students] create something in the game and, then partway through, they decide they’re creating something else instead–great! It’s not a big deal. In fact, it’s a big deal in the right way: ‘Hey, you changed course and you were OK with it.’ It teaches them to be flexible.
  • (52:30) There’s a meritocracy to Minecraft. Kids learn really quickly that, if you know what you’re talking about and you have expertise, that people will come to you. It’s almost like they get a glimpse of the adult life.
  • (53:31) Within 15 words or less, try to explain: why is Minecraft a useful educational tool?

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:

  • Shane Asselstine – Elementary curriculum and technology coordinator in Honolulu, HI
  • Matt Coia – ‘Science Teacher turned student’ pursuing an additional degree in Computer Science
  • Colin Gallagher – Teacher at the ISS International School in Singapore; creator of “Minecraft Minechat” YouTube series
  • Seann Dikkers – Assistant Professor in the Educational Technology division of the Patton College of Education at Ohio University
  • Neil Wyrchowny – Technology Consultant and Minecraft Book Author
  • Diane Main – Assistant Director of Instructional Technology for The Harker School in California

Resources for this webinar:

Photos/Liz Henry

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