Real-World Examples and Possible Future Applications of Minecraft

What are some unique and exciting ways that educators today are using Minecraft, and what might be possible in the future?

About The Speaker(s)

  • Rick Moffat - educational technology expert and Senior Technical Consultant at Temple University
  • Stephen Elford - secondary teacher in Australia, using games to engage students in their learning
  • Shane Asselstine - Elementary curriculum and technology coordinator in Honolulu, HI
  • Joel Levin - computer teacher at a private school in New York City, and the owner/co-creator of MinecraftEdu
  • John Miller - 6th-grade teacher at Chalone Peaks Middle School
  • Jackson Gomes - T4 Project Coordinator at Brooklyn Public Library

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Resources

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Key Questions and Comments

  • (04:14) It can take a long time to put together a good lesson. Could we give people an idea of what it takes to put that kind of curriculum together for a class session?
  • (07:25) For the facilitator to be really familiar with the tool--in this case, Minecraft--is also really important...There's no substitute for experience with the game itself.
  • (14:15) Today, we did a cobblestone factory and we talked about multiplication. And the kids will earn coins through those lessons, come back, and use that to spend money--working within an economy in the game--to "buy" their house...
  • (15:00) [Minecraft] is like a virtual space where I can get students to used to exploring things in a different way. Whether it's math concepts or science concepts or performing proper experiments.
  • (18:03) What are the components of an engaging Minecraft lesson? What is it about the way you design the class that engages the kids, not just in playing but learning the content that you're trying to deliver?
  • (19:36) My kids want that immersive experience: they don't want to be told they're in Egypt--they want to feel they're in Egypt, they want to see that they're in Egypt...So, these are some of the components that I find really important: the game mechanics and the immersiveness of the environment.
  • (21:08) Is there anything about using Minecraft that's changed the way you teach or changed the way you've thought about teaching?
  • (24:01) Where do you fall on those two continuums? Is there value in 'just free play'? Is there value in scripted lessons? And how do you balance those?
  • (27:48) I think it is absolutely critical that we get these guys in there, let them immerse in this world, and let that creativity come out. Because, frankly...we've tested that creativity out of kids. I see it as my job to get it back, and I think Minecraft is way ahead of many other ways to do that.
  • (30:06) Where do you think Minecraft is going to be in, say, 5-10 years? Is Minecraft a once-in-a-generation tool that we can use in learning environments? Or are we at the point where: (A) teachers are literate & fluent enough in games to turn them into something you can use in the classroom? (B) Are the tools themselves flexible enough to build the kind of environments you need for effective education?
  • (32:40) Let's forget about schools for a minute. I talk to parents and they all recognize that there's something different going on when their kid plays Minecraft as opposed to other video games. There's this thought process that goes on of solving problems and being self-reliant and figuring out new skills.
  • (37:37) Are there mods that you use in your teaching that make your job easier? Are there mods that you'd like people to write?
  • (41:38) If there's specific content that you want to teach and it's not out there, all you've got to do is find some like-minded people and you can probably make it happen.
  • (44:49) Obviously, Minecraft is not only suited to one or two types of disciplines. What is it about Minecraft that you can use it in so many different ways, from particle physics to ancient history to modeling a cell? Is it easier to use Minecraft for certain subjects, or is it up to the teacher's imagination?
  • (51:44) What is it about Minecraft that gives you the ability to collaborate on larger projects? What lese can we do with Minecraft outside of the classroom to facilitate these community/social projects?
  • (57:03) The world would be a better place if we just all played more. And I really want to be able to get my kids to think that, too, and join in.
  • (58:33) There is no harm in giving this a go. The key part is you do it where you're comfortable...reflect on what happens...there's no right way to do this.

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