Minecraft-ing the Curriculum

With more and more focus on standardised testing and data collection in education teachers are looking for solutions that satisfy the curriculum and the governing education department’s requirements of assessment data.

The timeless question for many teachers in the classroom today is: How can I keep my students motivated to learn and participate? And there are a vast number of resources to answer this timeless question, but my answer is always to make it feel like it isn’t learning and the students are engaged and demonstrate a whole lot more than the curriculum outcomes that you have set for the lesson.

Minecraft

 

This, in my experience, occurs when students are all in a game together and the environment is set up as a supportive one. When students are playing in Minecraft they are all on a level that is challenging for them as individuals with a vast range of experiences and skills. In my minecraft classroom I have leaders who are able to support other students and show leadership. They can teach new skills and demonstrate strategies that are quite complex. The problem solving skills, teamwork, collaboration and resilience that is demonstrated in a single session of minecraft (even in free play) extends far beyond what can be assessed on any standard test or data collection system.

Education is as much about the general knowledge and basic skills as it is about the so called “21st Century skills” for future employability. This platform, and that is what I call it because it is so much more than a game, is being used as a learning tool from the foundation years of school right through to the final school years to deliver and explore information and concepts in all areas of the curriculum.

In the new Australian Digital Technologies curriculum students are expected to experience coding. This is a daunting task for many teachers, including me before I discovered the power of Minecraft. From the outset whether they are playing singleplayer, multiplayer in a LAN world or in an online server such as Buddyverse (Kid Safe server), players are almost immediately using code to change settings, communicate with other players or even just to find their location in the world.

Communication skills and literacy are key elements in a multiplayer situation, where all participants can talk either in-game through a third party app such as overwolf or teamspeak, or they can just use the text chat which develops keyboarding skills and spelling proficiency.

Numeracy begins from the moment players start to gather and build. In survival mode this is best because they also need to learn (or research) recipes to craft, build and advance in the game and to protect their resource which leads nicely into sustainability and renewable resources from the HSIE curriculum.

Minecraft is not just for the junior/under 13 years age group of students. I have some students in my senior class who have spent time not only playing minecraft to learn but also learning how to take the game play experience into the Virtual reality world by linking Minecraft PC version to the Google Cardboard and changing the user experience completely. The student playing in this video is a seasoned game player and beginner developer who had to relearn how to play Minecraft. This was his second attempt at playing using the Google Cardboard as the game viewer. You may notice in one part of the video he is looking to the left of the screen yet on the computer it is registering that he is looking straight. These are all refinements to be made for this project.

I could continue these examples with numerous examples for each learning area, but instead I will leave it up to you and your students to get in and have a look at the potential for learning in this wonderful environment. If you are after any specific ideas around a particular learning area or to achieve a particular learning outcome please feel free to leave a comment below and I will respond with my best answers and suggestions.

Happy Mining!!

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2 thoughts on “Minecraft-ing the Curriculum

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