Bringing the world of Minecraft into your classroom
With over 100 million players worldwide, it is likely that you have heard of the game Minecraft. It is also likely that your students play this game as soon as they get home from school. Why not harness their excitement by using Minecraft in the classroom? With the release of Minecraft: Education Edition, this will be easier to do than ever before.
What is Minecraft?
Minecraft is an open world in which players create 3D structures using blocks. It is often described as “virtual Legos.” These blocks symbolize a variety of materials including dirt, water, ore, and wood. Players must gather these materials and use them to create. Goals include building shelter, gathering materials, and making tools in order to survive.
There are no rules or instructions; players can explore and create how they choose. Players can work alone or interact with friends and other players to create their world. There are even minigames with additional challenges for players to complete.
21st Century Skills
Beyond potential math content, Minecraft hits on many of the 21st century skills that are needed for the STEM workplace. These skills include collaboration, creativity, perseverance, and critical thinking.
Mia Swinehart, an avid Minecraft player in the 5th grade, shared that Minecraft has facilitated the development of many skills that have helped her in school. Her list includes cooperation, creativity, friendship, time management, and responsibility. She enjoys being able to interact with her friends and people all over the world to achieve a common goal. This has also taught her responsibility because some tasks are divided among the members of the team.
Minecraft is already being using in classrooms around the globe for a variety of STEM subjects. Yet Microsoft saw the potential for larger impacts. This led to the development of the entirely new, expanded version called Minecraft: Education Edition.
The new Education Edition is specifically designed to use in the classroom on a daily basis. The game will look nearly identical to the original, but there will be added tools for teachers and parents. These include collaboration options and student progress tracking. Minecraft: Education Edition will also host resources for teachers including collaboration space and lesson plans on their website.
Other changes include the use of C++ instead of Java, which will help resolve issues that schools were having with the old version. This will also allow teachers to monitor class sessions with large groups of players. If the school utilizes Office 365, the transition will be even easier with the use of already created Microsoft accounts.
How could it be used in the classroom?
The great thing about Minecraft is that it is an open world. This means that lessons can be created in this space about any topic, including STEM. Students can recreate environments, learn about proportion, and make scale models, just to name a few.
Minecraft is loved by many students. This is an engaging way to develop 21st century skills and make connections to classroom content. As Mia shared, “it helps me think, while still having fun!” Isn’t that we want for all of our students?
Minecraft: Education Edition will be released this summer. In the meantime, check out their trailer to learn more!
Alexandra D. Owens
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