Essential question: What Minecraft game could you create that would help students learn? #uaemergtech

minecraft_blox

Several years ago a group of students at my high school in conjunction with the Technology Director at Cordova High School began looking into the educational benefits of Minecraft.  At that point I had no idea what Minecraft was and I was skeptical that it could be used for any real benefit.  That group of students went on to develop many great ideas and applications for MineCraft in education and presented them during an ASTE conference in 2013 (CSD Board Minutes).  That same year some of the students submitted a project in my World History class on trenches in the Great War and I was very impressed with the evidence of learning, creativity, and critical thinking skills needed by applying Minecraft to education.

Like most things regarding technology in education, if you are having a hard time applying uses for the technology it is likely because you are not thinking big enough.  As I have learned more about Minecraft and its educational benefits the last few years and I have become much more enthusiastic about the many cross curricular benefits.  Coding, Mathematics, Writing, Music, social networking are just some of the areas where Minecraft can benefit students (Minecraft in Education).  Primarily what makes me excited is that students are quickly engaged when using technology,  Minecraft in particular.  Applying the Constructivist Learning Theory to Minecraft in education is an easy fit.  “This theory states that learning is an active process of creating meaning from different experiences…  This has led many educators to believe that the best way to learn is by having students construct their own knowledge instead of having someone construct it for them” (Constructivist Learning Theory).  Or in reality, it is not so much about what Minecraft game I could create for my students but what my students could create for me that reflects their learning, creativity, and critical thinking skills.

I live with a Minecraft enthusiast and his mother and I have long tormented over the costs/benefits of video games and screen time in particular.  In the video below, you can see his perspective on Minecraft.  While he does take a minute to warm up, you can see that he is enthusiastic about Minecraft and the freedom and creativity it allows him to express.  While there are certainly some video games that we would not allow him to play (for lack of educational benefits) we feel that he has grown academically from Minecraft and would continue to benefit from Minecraft applied in a more organized educational setting.

@JasonBoerger

Works Cited

CSD Board Minutes.  (2013, March 1).  http://www.cordovasd.org/cms/lib6/AK01001832/Centricity/Domain/39/2012_13schyr/130313AppMins.pdf
Constructivist Learning Theory. (n.d.). Retrieved July 7, 2015, from https://www.nde-ed.org/TeachingResources/ClassroomTips/Constructivist _Learning.html
Graham, L. (2015, January 26). Simply engaging and utterly consuming: #Givercraft 2014 Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute | MVU | Michigan Virtual University. Retrieved July 7, 2015.
Minecraft in Education. (2015, June 25). Retrieved July 7, 2015.  http://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Minecraft_in_education
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4 thoughts on “Essential question: What Minecraft game could you create that would help students learn? #uaemergtech

  1. When I was reading articles for this blog post one of the suggestions I saw was having students taking tours of famous/historical monuments a buildings. I’m assuming the teacher or someone would have designed the building in the game and students would walk around and explore the building in the game to learn from it. I really like how you flipped that idea though and had students create something instead, to demonstrate their knowledge. What and interesting project for the students, and a great assessment piece for teacher too.

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  2. Great post. I can agree with what you say about letting students create their own learning. I can also see the benefit of this game in education, I would even like to try it out more without spending the money. This is not the first choice I would pick to play when I was a kid, it doesn’t fly, blow things up, or shoot things down. When I was kid, I played Atari, then Nintendo, then computers, then a Playstation as the games became more violent. None of those games would be used in education except Sim City maybe. So now for me to look at this simple basic game, I can see the benefit in the classroom. I don’t know if constructing a building is the same as constructing education, but it shire could help in the understanding of something.

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    • Yah I agree. The Nintendo I played along with The N64 didn’t exactly open a super highway of learning for me. I think Minecraft can be less beneficial in certain game modes… But at its worst it is probably better than what I got out of Super Contra and Blades of Steel. Your Twitter chat helped me think further about more activities I could apply specifically to social studies … And I think some of those directed activities have a ton of benefit for the students. Will they be as excited about those activities if they are super structured? I hope so…

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      • Right on!! I think the simplicity of the game is what makes it great for learning. There is not 100 keystrokes you have to memorize, and the objective is simple for the learning aspect. Its not the kind of game I would play, but I would learn to use it if it was an option for me. Thanks for the feed back!

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