In a previous post, we reviewed why Vicki Davis(@coolcatteacher) and other teachers use virtual worlds to teach digital citizenship and online collaboration. It’s amazing to see how teachers use technologies like OpenSim to transform their students into teachers.
As a Dad, I always enjoy finding games that my son and I can enjoy together. We decided to check out Minecraft this week for father/son gaming time. Minecraft is a social virtual experience where players explore worlds composed of blocks. The game framework enables players to collaborate and communicate with each other by text chat. The game experience feels like you’re walking into a land completely composed of Lego’s. If you had an infinite bucket of Lego blocks, what would you build? In a few hours game play, I have been blown away by the creativity and effort that Minecraft players invest in their virtual worlds.
As we have been exploring tools in educational technology, I have been impressed with how teachers use Minecraft in their classroom. In contrast to traditional games that have well defined stories and objectives, Minecraft was designed to be open ended. This enables teachers or students to design their own challenges, stories, project based learning experiences and quests. I wanted to review a few ways that educators use Minecraft in the classroom:
Minecraft can be used as a tool to engage student creativity: Erik Shaver, a social studies teacher, challenged his class to draw or describe a self sustainable town. One of his students asked if he could “draw” his answer in Minecraft… The following video shows the amazing world the student created.
Minecraft in foreign language learning: In a “Teachers teaching teachers” episode, a story was shared about a foreign language teacher challenging the class to collaborate to create a complex structure(i.e. a city or castle) in Minecraft. This task, of course, would require a great deal of communication between students. The teacher required all students to communicate with each other while practicing their language skills.
The Minecraft teacher: Of course, I have to introduce you to Joel. Joel Levin is an innovative computer teacher from New York City who uses Minecraft to engage his students. He is also creator of MinecraftEdu, the official version of Minecraft designed for teachers and students. The following video describes how he uses Minecraft in his classroom.
More ideas from the Minecraft education Wiki: http://minecraftedu.com/wiki/index.php?title=Real-world_Examples
Could you imagine yourself using a virtual environment to engage your students?
Have you used a technology like Second Life or Minecraft to help create a creative teaching environment?
Please leave a comment here. We would love to share your stories.