Monday, 23 September 2013

Some comments need to be read

While searching for new Minecraft ideas, thoughts and interestings I came across this article. If you do find it to be thought provoking or interesting in any way please go to his website and +1 the article for him.

Minecraft In Education: Pros And Cons

There’s a popular fast-talking video making its way around the web that showcases how Mincraft may very well be “the ultimate education tool.” Whether you agree or not, the video raises some interesting ideas. Basically, the Idea Channel folks (who made the video) posit that Minecraft is such a valuable tool because it’s so customizable. They talk about how video games have long been used in education but how Minecraft offers a new approach by letting the player construct the game. In other words, a teacher could build his or her own video game tailored to the lessons being taught in the classroom. The students could then enter that custom game and explore, learn, and even build upon it themselves.
Exciting, right? I thought so too. Minecraft is loads of fun and, aside from the learning curve, is certainly a useful educational tool. I don’t know if I’d say “ultimate” but that’s not the point. The point is weighing the pros and cons of using Minecraft in education. In order to do that, I turned to people far more boisterous and knowledgeable than myself: the Reddit crowd. Turns out they had been weighing in on the usefulness of Minecraft in education for quite awhile now. Below are some excerpts from comments left on a Reddit thread about the video.
I think Minecraft has about as much inherent educational value as an overhead projector, in that it depends entirely on the skill and vision of the instructor using it. Its a great blank canvas system, and the tools for leveraging that canvas are only getting better with time. That said, its not gonna work for everyone, but I wouldn’t expect that of any educational intervention. MinecraftEDU is more an excellent example of an instructor noticing how they might leverage an existing artifact to engage their students. His enthusiasm was probably just as important as the game itself in making a difference for those kids. -naxareth
Well said. This is similar to all of the excitement around interactive whiteboards and now iPads (and other tablets). Many people think that purchasing these devices will revolutionize learning in their schools – and they make these purchases without any planning or vision. MindecraftEDU is a great resource, but education is not a One Size Fits All system nor should it be. Like you said, “it depends entirely on the skill and vision of the instructor.” -futboler
Useful in a school context? Would just kill it. The thing that made Minecraft good for [my son] was the unguided aspect of it.  -sreyemhtes
First 20 seconds of the video: “Minecraft is like first person Lego”. Lego is not considered the ultimate educational tool, but this which is a virtual version of it is? Of all the examples the person gave, only one actually seemed educationally viable: using Minecraft for area, volume and abstract 3D objects. That is one use in a very specific part of mathematics. Not exactly the worlds “ultimate educational tool”. -ShadyBiz
Tools are simply artifacts, but they also exist to amplify our capacities. There certainly exists an instructor who cannot get a point across with a book that they could using Minecraft, there also certainly exists a teacher who can engage students better with a lecture than a game. As you said it is not a one size fits all environment. -naxareth
What do you think about Minecraft? Would you use it in your classroom? Has your teacher used it at all? Just how much work would it take to build a high-quality learning environment within the game?

Perhaps the most interesting part for me was then to follow the link to Reddit crowd.

Very interesting and occasionally shocking or thought provoking with some of the comments and threads.

This is an article written By  on March 27, 2013
I have definitely started following him @edudemic

Monday, 16 September 2013

I Thought This Was Great

Minecraft blowing up the classroom; educators say the game can teach everything from math to genetics

Minecraft camp

Jed Kim

Casey, 6, plays Minecraft at a summer camp dedicated to teaching kids how to play and modify the popular computer game.
At New Los Angeles Charter School last year, seventh graders learned the humanities by founding their own civilizations - and living in them.
"That was a project where the kids, in groups, had to work together to survive without starving or running out of a food supply," said teacher Dan Thalkar, "and then slowly build their own society and civilization with all of the aspects that actual civilizations have."
They weren't dropped off on a deserted island. The students used the popular computer game Minecraft to build those civilizations.
In creative mode, Minecraft users roam through different settings and build freely. Users can choose from a variety of tools in their inventory and use blocks to construct just about anything.
The charter school project culminated in the seventh grade students developing an economy and trading system with the other groups in the class. They even learned about the power structures that maintain societies as one group of students staged a coup against a peer who had taken too much control in the game.
"Minecraft is useful in the classroom because you can use it for pretty much anything you want," Thalkar said. "That’s the beauty of the way the game was designed and how open ended it is. If you want to use it for something for math or for science you can, either just by using the game itself or by modifying it."
Thalkar and other teachers are beginning to use Minecraft to teach concepts in math, science and the humanities. They can use the blocks to teach scale and breed virtual bees to teach genetics. The game can be used to create electrical circuits and complex machines, which can then be used to teach about concepts in electrical engineering. Students can also create and then trade goods, which is one way to teach about concepts in economics.
"Part of what it creates is habits of mind, kind of a sense of how to be a learner, how to be someone who’s successful at learning," said Linda Polin, a professor of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University who researches how students learn through video games.
But Minecraft wasn’t designed for the classroom. It was designed for fun - and it’s a big hit. Minecraft brought in about $240 million in revenue in 2012.
Still, one private school teacher in New York found it so useful, he launched a company that created and sells a classroom version of the game. Joe Levin, co-owner of TeacherGaming, LLC., said about 1,700 schools around the world have purchased his MinecraftEdu.
Teachers who don't use his version can still use the mainstream version of the game. Most will likely stick to the creative mode - not the survival mode, where things blow up and characters fight each other.
Part of Minecraft’s appeal is that it’s flexible in its design, allowing educators to modify it to suit their lessons, Levin said.
"You know, a lot of learning games, you’d as a teacher, have to change your curriculum to fit the game," said Levin. "Minecraft was the first game that came along where I could change the game to fit my curriculum."
Teachers said another benefit is that kids are already hooked on the game.
Large summer camp provider Star Camps said its Minecraft summer programs consistently sell out. At a recent session at Warner Elementary School, two dozen young students built virtual houses and tamed computer-generated wolves in a classroom.
"I like creative mode, because on survival you can’t spawn animals," said Casey, one of the students enrolled in the camp. 
Camp teachers walked around, observing the kids type computer code onto their keyboards.
"It really allows them to have a lot of creative expression, so it’s a game where they can do whatever they want. We provide them a lot of context to make it more educational for the camp, but they have the ability and freedom to go run out in the world, build without any restraints, which is really attractive to them because they have that freedom," said Jarrod Wolkowitz, who heads “Game School” for Culver City-based Star, Inc.
Wolkowitz agreed that students can learn how to collaborate, solve interpersonal problems, and manage resources through the game.
Thalkar, of New Los Angeles Charter School, believes that general life skills like these may not be directly academic skills, but are important for children to learn.
"The beauty about games is that they encourage failure. They are predicated on kids trying things and failing and trying something else and trying it again," he said. "That's a skill that we need to impart on our kids. This fearlessness in just doing stuff."
This article is directly from

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Common Ground for Social Isues

We all have students that struggle socially. Every school will or does spend countless hours on counselling, mediating and disciplining students for social problems and issues. Yet we chat, often accept a fleeting apology and then send them back out to the playground battlefield for the next war.

Finding a common ground to develop a connection with these students could be a great place to start. Getting away from the real world, stepping out of reality, having a buffer of an avatar representation in social interactions can really help situations.

Minecraft can be a place where students in these situations can go that can be a controlled environment that easily and deliberately places students in the situations they struggle with. They can interact and work with peers and teachers alike without the face to face contact that can often be daunting and confronting for them. Arguments, disagreements , stealing, bullying, anger and many other emotions will still happen but if used positively these situations can and have been used to improve understanding and assist moving forward.within Minecraft and then hopefully the real world.

Adults don't have to have an advanced knowledge of Minecraft. Learn together, let the student teach . Don't complicate the start point too much. Have a simple construction task to start and then let the leadership change. Dig a tunnel to meet each other. So many ideas are possible to create a teamwork situation for 2 or more students.

Hindsight is a wonderfully frustrating thing. After a discussion with a colleague in Melbourne about his approach to Minecraft, I now regret not launching Minecraft at my school under this umbrella of social interaction counselling.

Anyway, that's my ramble, let me know if anyone has been successful with this kind of approach or has any great teamwork tasks.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Maths World

Our brilliant, motivated and imaginative Minecraft Crew again demonstrated their initiative when I threw the idea of Minecraft Math World at them.
This is a lunch times work for them.....

Lesson Video

I recently filmed this to use in a IWB conference in Melbourne about Minecraft in the curriculum.
It demonstrates how the students move from explicit teaching to individual and team work situations.
Sorry about some of the sound.....hope this can help