Minecraft – where to ?

imagesWe are on a two week break and I am spending some of this time trying to connect two things in my mind.  We have an opportunity to run Minecraft in our school next term.  We are also running many Inquiry units that all have as the foundation the concepts of Innovation and Change.   These children will be applying a design brief to create products.  I know I can come up with a connection.

I have started dabbling with Minecraft  by –

So far, I have learnt that Minecraft is

  • open ended problem solving
  • suitable for 5 year olds but still enjoyed by teenagers and adults
  • a game that generates a random world that is virtually infinite
  • a game that has a ‘retro’ look – think Lego blocks
  • a game where you need to define your own ‘purpose’
  • has challenges when the sun goes down and the monsters come out
  • able to be modified to classroom situation (eg you can turn off the monsters).  This is, in fact, the recommended option when running your own server for educational purposes.
  • a game that has control scheme similar to many other games
  • supported by numerous online guides – Wiki’s, You Tube tutorials
  • still being developed

I will admit that a while ago I was quite sceptical about the place of gaming in school, but I am getting more and more convinced that it is a great way to engage students and incorporate many useful skills.

More to come ….

PS Since the first part of this post, I keep looking further and finding more resources …

Ed Tech crew Show notes has heaps more including Dean Groom’s “How to teach Minecraft in an hour

PPS and then due to the wonders of Twitter I listened in to an episode of EdTechTalk – lots more talk about Minecraft

One major resource I found from this interview was

Screen shot 2011-07-14 at 7.18.47 PMI wish there were a few more weeks of holidays

Anyone else already been where I hope to travel ??

Week 10 – Gaming for learning (13/7 – 19/7)

The SLAV Personal learning Network for Victoria Schools PD project  continues – it has been wonderful and this week, we listened to the Elluminate session with Adrian Camm and Hamish Curry and watched the video of the very enthusiastic Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world TED Talk.   They spoke with great passion for the use of games in education.  There is no doubt, they would be popular.

Whilst I can see the potential of games in education, and admit that there are skills that can be applied within game environments, I struggle to understand how this can be applied in the Primary School environment to any great degree.   I understand the theory behind ‘learning through play’ but feel that our current education system stiffles this potential to some degree.


I have used simulation games eg Stop Disasters  –  A disaster simulation game from the UN/International Strategy for Disaster Reduction .  This was wonderful and many learning opportunities came out of it.   I believe that this worked as it was a short activity – each episode takes 20 minutes, the children could repeat it a few times and apply new learning each time.  This was manageable within a class environment and busy school curriculum.    It most certainly engaged the children and had them thinking.    I can definitely see how this sort of game playing can enrich understandings , require problem solving skills and motivate learners.  I have no doubt that those students remember some of the factors that can minimise harm and prevent injuries from Natural disasters much more than they would have if they had simply read a book.

tiggamesEarlier this year, I was fortunate enough to hear Michael Furdyk from TakingITGlobal speak and he showed some of the simulation games that his organisation has created or supported.  They are amazing as they deal with solving or highlighting world issues -Millenium Development goals,  food shortages etc.  Games for change.   Well worth a look.

It would take some considerable planning and more flexibility than is currently available within the current primary school curriculum to enable major use of on-line games that go for extended periods .   Thankfully there are a few as I have illustrated above that are shorter term.    Unfortunately, whilst we have such stringent requirements to cover content, I wonder how it could work.    Any ideas? experiences?

PS  Since first posting, Judith made me aware of some work being done with Wii and Nintendo in schools (see comments for details) and I stumbled upon the work of Jen Deyenberg from Canada.   They are both using these tools with success in Primary classrooms.  This is a different sort of gaming than I was thinking of and referring to earlier …  Our iPod Touch pilot program has similar possibilities – will keep thinking …..