Early Days with Minecraft

After hearing so many positive comments about Minecraft, I was keen to introduce it into my year 9/10 Gaming elective. Over the last 5 years, I have chanced upon, deliberately chosen to experiment with and used a network to learn how to immerse technology into the classroom. However, with minecraft, I faced my first real technical, unsurmountable hitch that was completely reliant on the technicians doing it for me and I had now lost control!

There were troubles getting minecraftedu in a useable form, allowing students to log on with individual usernames. Year 7 students were working on minecraft with Quantum Victoria. All stops were pulled out and our technician worked with the games developer from Quantum, but due to the problems, I was told by both my principal and technician “It is only a game!” Fortunately, contact with minecraftedu has now allowed us to use a BETA form and the game was ready to play last week.

Here is how it played out last week:-

  1. Surveyed the class – 2 of the 10 students who are playing minecraft are experienced – the rest are completely new
  2. I had a quick 1 hour lesson on minecraft from the technician. That was ‘mind’ overload, but I was really impressed with the nature and potential of this game. As a teacher, I was shown some of the control that I had over the students.
  3. Quick decisions were made to simply throw my year 9/10 students into the world and just let them go! The night beasties were deliberately turned off to give the newbies are start in life in minecraftedu
  4. The lesson started by sharing the logging on process. From the newbies the first question was “How do I move?”

What I saw:-

  • The newbies simply explored during the 100 min class time – they dug down, killed pigs, got lost, bumped into each other, had to respawn, drowned in water etc.
  • The experienced proceeded to build shelters/homes, gather tools for building, hunting etc
  • The kindness and generousity of one of the experienced lads who quickly built a house, added light torches, a stove for cooking and put many tools for others to grab in his tool box. The other students made use of his tools and added them to his inventory.
  • Another experienced player, went straight to the temple and grabbed all the hidden treasures there for his own inventory. Greed was starting to make a play.
  • Students helping each other, sharing what they learnt, answering the questions of others, spending time to mentor.
  • One of the newbies, went wandering far exploring (but he is an experienced gamer). Decided to add to huge cactus to his roof top so that he could find his space again.
  • Engagement for the complete 100 mins

What I heard:-

  • lots of questions initially
  • sheer silence at time
  • lots of laughter
  • shouts of excitement

What I felt

  • a sense of pride and achievement in the students
  • a sense of collaboration amongst the students
  • community building
  • collaborative group work

Day two – unfortunately illness in the family prevented me from being with the students for this class. When I questioned them as to how they went:-

  • the boy who put the cactus on his house couldn’t locate it at all, so started building again. He does not want to build near or with the others
  • the girls excitedly told me that there were creatures that came in the night now that they had to fight off. They commenced a building of their own and were intrigued to see ‘admin’ floating above them and chatting to them in their world. (That would have been our techie). They didnt know what to do next, so started to find tutorials to teach them. One of them spent several nights at home learning online about it.

Overall Result: – I am having problems with the number of students who are wanting to come in at every possible recess or lunchtime to keep ‘playing’ with minecraft!

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4 responses to “Early Days with Minecraft

  1. Have started a Minecraft Club at lunchtime where students are teaching me the game. They love being the experts and I have found them to be kind and generous teachers. I am hoping to introduce the game further next year and students are very keen. Not sure how to take the next step though.

    • Hi Merryn, thanks for responding to this post. I had no idea where to start nor where we will go with this, but the students are obviously learning many life skills by playing this, are actively engaged and seem to be working out a direction to take. I am happy to let them take control of the next step. Are you using minecraftedu? I worry about all the other students that may want to join in but who I havent had the chance to talk about co-operation, group work, teaching etc. What if they destroy much of the great work my class have done?

  2. Great post Anne, looking forward to you sharing your journey with us. Do you have any plans for using MinecraftEdu to get your students to create educational maps for others, as I would be interested in supporting you and your students in making maps (and testing them with my students).

    Are any other teachers showing interest in using it in their classes, or are you hoping the students will ‘push’ it out to other faculty members?

    I would also be interested in collaborating on a joint server, where our 2 schools can join and build together and deal with all the social aspects of that situation together.

    • Hi Stephen, thanks for the comment. I have no idea how to create and educational map, nor what it would look like. Are you able to please explain more? I want them to blog about it and share their knowledge and learning. They have just been thrown into the world and we are learning as we go. Fortunately we have two boys who are advanced players and a technician who is into it too.
      Our year 7 “Skills for Living” teacher is using it with the year 7 students and they are designing spaces that are either appropriate for science or their excursions.
      I love the idea of collaborating on a joint server, where we can build together. I wonder if that is possible in the last few weeks of term? Can they then access that from home, or would it be school based only. Please tell me more as I am an utter newbie here.
      Thanks
      Anne

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