Minecraft: Education Edition. My Top 10 Improvements
Minecon 2016 is just under a week away and it’s a perfect platform for announcing new Minecraft additions and innovations. So what better time to think of the future and what I’d truly love to see added, improved or reconsidered with Minecraft: Education Edition in the next 12 months kicking off with…
- Chalk Boards
Hands up all those with a chalk board in their classroom… Yeah. Thought so. Minecraft is one of the most innovative digital learning spaces to hit education for many years. It is now owned by Microsoft! Give us a PowerPoint slide at least! I would have loved to have been at the table when someone suggested chalk boards as an engaging way of communicating text to learners.
Without movement, the ability to talk, execute commands or give items these are essentially a chalk board with legs. A missed opportunity but one that is ripe for development. And don’t even get me started on those skins…
An incredible tool as it stands with massive potential. If it could capture video it would offer a truly innovative medium for learning. A static video capture point would be great but add in a “drone cam” feature with the ability to follow a player or even fly a fixed route and it would truly change the face of Minecraft in Education. Integrate directly into a Mix presentation and there’s a recipe for learning made in heaven.
Teachers need control. Period. The ability to freeze, teleport, alter permissions, give items and control the in game environment, at the click of a button, from a central user interface was what made MinecraftEdu great. Slash Commands are all well and good but in the time it takes me to type one, my students would be at bedrock searching for Curly’s Lost Diamonds rather than exploring the learning I had planned.
One of the core uses of Minecraft in Education has always been the ability to integrate coding. From modding to using mods such as ComputerCraft, teachers have used Minecraft as an engaging medium to explore coding. The Raspberry Pi community is thriving with some incredible innovations. Integrate all that is great about those communities and see Minecraft in Education excel to new heights.
- Command Blocks
I see their effects in many maps I use but understand little of their mechanics and wizardry. Even with my limited ability to use these features I could structure and augment the learning in my Minecraft environment in myriad ways. Command blocks are inevitable, but sooner please rather than later.
- Build Tools
I have deliberately refrained from using any 3rd party build tools since the announcement of Minecraft: Education Edition. Whilst building the www.LearningBlocksEdu.co.uk site I needed some images. I delved into the world of http://cubical.xyz/ (created by the amazing @inHaze) and MCEdit again. These tools can be a daunting place for beginners and are often aimed at the seasoned Minecraft user however their power in terms of creativity and time saving are immense. The Minecraft community is as diverse as it is talented. Reach out to the coders, filter writers and build teams and incorporate some of their genius for the good of education.
Connections, collaborations and community are some of the driving forces behind the success of Minecraft as a platform. Not one single community space, however, is led by, owned by or moderated by Mojang. The community has and always will find its own ways to connect and share. However we choose to connect, a collaborative approach to development is what will make Minecraft in Education stronger than the sum of its parts.
- Cross platform
Currently only running on Windows 10 and iOS El Capitan seems a little constraining. Building the code on the Pocket Edition version of Minecraft however points to a future of cross platform goodness. I’d love to see the learning start in the classroom and be continued beyond it, on whatever device students had to hand, be it an iPad, Raspberry Pi or Chromebook. Minecraft is Minecraft and the sooner it comes with cross platform support the better. Minecraft: Education Edition running on whatever device a school, teacher or learner chooses to use would be a thing of beauty to revolutionise learning as we know it.
I’ve deliberately avoided this topic directly in terms of licensing and won’t be digging into it here. Suffice to say that in my school it would cost between $1,000 and $5,000 per year, every year for me to incorporate Minecraft: Education Edition across the school. Needless to say this would not be a price tag my leadership team would even table for consideration. But more on this at a later date. Cost is the number one most needed area for urgent reconsideration in the whole Minecraft: Education Edition model.
So there you have it. My Top 10 of things I’d like to see in Minecraft: Education Edition. As always your comments, views and additions would be gratefully accepted. The debate is going strong in the back channels so it’s time to bring it to the fore front again. I’m sure the Microsoft team are listening and ready for action so let’s keep them on their toes!