Literacy Blocks 3: The Future Of Minecraft In Education – Part 1
July 4th and 5th 2015: Minecon, London. Ten thousand Minecraft enthusiasts from all corners of the planet converged on the ExCel Centre in London for the world’s largest ever convention for a single video game: Minecraft. I was privileged enough to attend along with a group of other educators as a guest of Microsoft Education to experience the event and think about how Minecraft can play an ongoing role in education. Some had never placed a block in their lives; others were several years into their Minecraft adventures. As I sat in the training sessions provided for us on the Sunday afternoon (expertly led by Stephen Reid (@ImmersiveMind) and Sarah Guthals (@SarahGuthals)) several things solidified in my mind:
- Minecraft is an amazing, immersive platform on which to build camouflaged learning
- Teachers are not Minecraft experts
The enthusiasm spread throughout the non Minecrafters in that session like a wildfire. The “Just One More Block” infection reached epidemic proportions. Adults took advice from the child experts circulating the room to troubleshoot problems. The educators became the students. However, as the teachers in the room were enthusiastically building dirt shelters, I couldn’t help taking a step back from the situation and taking stock.
Our students may be thousands of hours into their Minecraft journey. The community is five years into it’s evolution and development. Teachers simply don’t have the time needed to invest in the development of their Minecraft skills in order to create the type of immersive experience that students can download for fun at home.
So how can teachers quickly and efficiently create immersive experiences for their students?
I am two years into my own Minecraft journey of discovery (18 months spent developing Minecraft in the classroom) and my build skills are mediocre at best. Some months ago I set about the challenge of simplifying the process for teachers. I explored avenues such as commissioning build teams to realise my vision on my behalf but the cost was prohibitive (hundreds of hours of building are needed for a quality build). I looked into the sale of maps in order to fund the build and discovered that the Mojang EULA prohibits this explicitly. So I looked for tools that could speed up the process of building. Thanks to the amazing Adam Clarke (@TheCommonPeople) and his “101 Ideas for Minecraft Learners” section of his YouTube channel, I discovered some gems and set about experimenting.
And so to today:
The 3 Hour Challenge
I set myself a target of three hours to create something that was multi purpose and could be used in several different Literacy lessons to pursue various learning outcomes. What I achieved in that time, would have taken hundreds of hours if I had undertaken the build without the aid of the time saving tools available.
Part 2 of this blog will explore the process, tools used and outcomes of the challenge. It has left me more motivated than ever to remove the barriers for other teachers and enable them to quickly incorporate quality, immersive and time efficient builds into their classrooms. The teaching community shares the Minecraft community ethos of sharing freely and widely. Part 2 of this blog will instigate a community wide challenge which I hope you will join me in rising to.
Feel free to leave a comment or connect with me on Twitter (@SimBadd64) to discuss anything contained here further.