What Good is Minecraft in Education? 10 Things to Try.
It still amazes me that after all these years of Minecraft being around that many people equate it with being 'just another game rotting our children's brains'.
I will admit, that when it first came out, I saw it as 'just a game' and I had no idea what it was about or why it was so popular. It was a while before I really looked at Minecraft: Education Edition and realised how powerful it is as a learning tool. I've since jumped in and embraced it. It's not always been easy and stress free but I know my students have loved using it to learn.
So, here are ten ideas for using Minecraft:Education Edition if you are thinking of dipping your toes in the water:
1. Start a Minecraft club - this is a no brainer. Not many teachers know how to play but we all have many, many experts to jump in to teach us. A Minecraft club is the perfect place to begin your Minecraft journey. I even created a tour video of the world my students created in lockdown last year. Tip: Always start your club with co-created community rules.
2. Design challenges - Why not give your students some design challenges? Easily link these to Design & Technology, Digital Technologies and Numeracy curriculums. My Year 6 students were challenged to design and create a Martian civilisation using Minecraft: Education Edition. Sounds simple but it was easily a terms worth of work. You could even use these build challenges from the Minecraft Educator Website.
3. Maths - There are so many ways for your students to explore mathematics in Minecraft. Shapes, symmetry, addition, subtraction, area, perimeter, estimation, angles, graphing... the list is exhaustive. If you can't think of a way to incorporate Minecraft into your Maths lessons, then ask your students how? I guarantee they will come up with many, many ideas. Check out this lesson on angles for some inspiration.
4. Pixel Art - play around with Media Art and challenge your students to create a piece of art using Minecraft bricks in the form of pixel art.
5. Science - did you know that you can 'mix' elements in Minecraft to create reactions? You sure can. Minecraft is a Science minefield. You want to know how students know what Lapis Lazuli or Diorite is? Minecraft. I have enjoyed seeing my students use this to create explosions to fly rockets in the game. It's a lot of fun.
6. Writing - what? How can you write in Minecraft? Well, funny you should ask. Minecraft: Education Edition is the perfect place to publish work. Not only can you create interactive story elements by building your settings in the game but you can also use signposts with text to direct your reader. You can also use the Quill and Notebook tool with the Camera to create an in-game published book (this video shows you how). Even better is that you can save this Notebook with your in-game photos as a pdf document and share it how you like.
7. Music - well, I'm no expert at this one but check out this video to see how you can 'play' music in Minecraft: Education Edition.
8. Explore Sustainability - I challenged my Year 8 students to learn about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and design and create a city of the future that incorporates a number of these goals. You can access the unit/ lesson plan for this here.
9. Maths, English and Art combined - whaaaat? Why not? There are many cross-curricula links with Minecraft which I am sure you will find on your own once you start exploring. One example is this lesson for students to create pixel art using maths and haiku poetry.
10. Esports - Esports is big business these days and many schools have begun their own leagues. A lot of schools will use games like Rocket League or Mario Kart but increasingly, many are turning to Minecraft as a way to engage students in Esports. If you want to learn more about Esports, check out thefusecup.com.au and click here for Minecraft specific Esports.
There you have it. Ten different ways you can embrace Minecraft: Education Edition in your classroom. I always recommend teachers check out the Minecraft Teacher Academy first as it is a brilliant learning opportunity, especially for those that need to understand it a bit more before jumping in.