Minecraft as a Game-Based Learning Environment

Why is Minecraft so unique among all the available game-based learning environments that educators can use?

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Key Questions and Comments

  • (07:32) What are some of the features of "good" educational games, in your opinion?
  • (08:25) I think that ability for kids to be social, to collaborate, to take leadership and have ownership...to learn to socialize and learn to be good citizens is the stellar space for me. That's the environment where I think the deepest and most compelling learning happens.
  • (13:02) We were doing really cool things in school, but it didn't even come close to what was happening in the off-school hours in servers when the kids would just go in and play...I sat back and watched that and it just changed everything in my thinking: it's about creating space where that can happen.
  • (17:11) One of the things I've been concerned about...was 'Will kids be able to take what they see in our game (or any games) and apply it outside of that?'...As long as they believe it and feel that they're a part of it, they'll apply it to all kinds of different things in their lives.
  • (22:44) To be a "good" educational game, does a game have to foster creativity or can games solely be used to address real-life concepts or cultural topics?
  • (25:15) I don't think that necessarily it has to be a creative sandbox to be great, but I think that the sandbox games really offer that flexibility which is really important for getting them into the classroom.
  • (27:32) One of things that I've found a little disturbing is that some of the pushback I've gotten about using games in the classroom has not come from adults or policymakers, but from kids. Kids have, for whatever reason (probably our fault because of the way we've designed the educational system), built this wall between what happens in school and what happens in their own time...We've got to do something about that.
  • (31:55) There are things here about personal wellbeing that are being learned in these spaces. And teachers who play in them will recognize it. Teachers who listen to the media only and have never been in these spaces themselves won't recognize that...don't just look at it from the theory: live it, go there, play it, get in yourself as an educator and see why it's so compelling for the kids.
  • (33:18) Is Minecraft a good game-based learning environment for [both academic skills and 21st century skills]?
  • (35:22) I encourage educators that, if you're going to get into games like Minecraft, to really think about how to use for what it does well: letting the kids build it.
  • (37:42) Minecraft offers us an opportunity to rethink how we teach...It's not just pulling in "The Oregon Trail" into your classroom for two weeks and then putting it away. It's something much more powerful than that. We really need to start thinking about how we frame it.
  • (40:45) One of the things we've done on our server is to implement a Monthly Challenge...Those have been really popular and there's no curricular goal in mind, yet, when I go in that space and I look at what's happening, those kids are talking about things that are really tied to curriculum.
  • (45:55) What Bron has seen, what Lucas has seen, and what I'm seeing: the kids, in that play, are exhibiting the kind of 21st century learning that they're going to need to survive.
  • (47:42) There are many things that are magical about MInecraft, but one of them is: the difficulty to do something creative in Minecraft is really well matched to what a kid wants to do and is able to do.
  • (50:50) How will schools (or all educational institutions) adopt game-based learning more? Will it have to be something that happens outside of school and then filter in?
  • (52:59) I just ran a 3D GameLab session on Pedagogy In Minecraft and I was a little disappointed by the number of educators who expected to learn about Minecraft, not within Minecraft...Until we get teachers over that hurdle of getting them in the space themselves, we're really not going to shift the ground or the pedagogy that surrounds it.
  • (54:25) Games are the way people are connecting. People think of social networks as being Facebook...games are the social network for little kids...and I don't see how education can ignore that for much longer.

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