Technology Integration

A Venture into the Square Side of Education with Minecraft

minecraft

Minecraft is becoming very popular among educators.  Teachers have begun to see the many possibilities Minecraft Edu (a version with teacher controls) has to offer.  I recently won a grant to install Minecraft Edu on 24 computers at my school.  As I begin to experiment with the possibilities of teaching and learning with Minecraft Edu in the classroom, I thought I would make some notes for those that might be considering a venture into the square side.

Setting Up

  • Minecraft Edu lives on hard drive of your computer, but networks all the computers with a teacher computer.
  • Teachers have controls that allow them to control the environment the students are in.  This includes being able to freeze them, mute them, teleport them, gift them with items and enable/disable them from building.
  • There are 3 types of worlds the teacher may choose from: Minecraft Edu, Creative, and Survival.

Minecraft Edu World Option

    • Students start with no inventory
    • Students have no way to gain inventory unless you give it to them
    • Students can craft in this option

I have only experimented with Minecraft Edu world option thus far, but I can see the benefits.  My latest lesson involved third graders using Minecraft Edu world option to practice their area/perimeter skills.  When students enter the world, they default to start with no inventory and there is nothing that can be found for students to add to their inventory.  This would seem very limiting, so why is this option attractive?

For my third graders, this was a great way for them to be introduced to Minecraft Edu.  They were given a task, create a structure with a perimeter of 12.  I gave them 20 Oak blocks.  Just enough for them to make a few mistakes as they learn.  I also gave them a sign to label the area and perimeter of their structure when done.  By being able to control inventory in mathematical learning situations, you can help students to think about the reasonableness of their answers.  It also stops most of them from being off task.  If they needed more blocks, I made them present me with a valid argument as to why.  

Another great reason for students to not have an inventory- you can offer to give pieces of inventory as incentives for hard work.  When students accomplished a task, or helped a neighbor, I gifted them with inventory pieces they desired, such as glass, gold ingot, doors, etc.

Most Importantly….

Even students who have played Minecraft at home, have probably not played it on a computer.  There will be a learning curve for most students.  Make sure your first assignment is something that gives the student enough space to learn and be creative, without them worrying too much about their grade for the day.  
More adventures from learning with Minecraft coming soon.

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