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:-
- Surveyed the class – 2 of the 10 students who are playing minecraft are experienced – the rest are completely new
- 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.
- 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
- 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!