I’m a big believer in the gamification of education, so for the past three years, whenever I’ve been at an educational conference I’ve looked for sessions on using Minecraft in classrooms. I’ve been trying to find great examples of Minecraft usage that both engages students and fosters academic rigor. I’ve always left feeling that somehow the presenter was missing the mark, mistaking engagement for academic learning, and rationalizing the gains as academic.
Today, however, I can cross off “find someone who gets Minecraft right” off my bucket list. I had the pleasure of attending Seann Dikkers‘ Minecraft session at the 2015 TIES Technology Conference. Seann has interviewed numerous teachers on how they use Minecraft. He presented a balanced and convincing case for the benefits from using Minecraft in classrooms and after-school clubs. He offered great tips on how teachers have successfully implemented Minecraft and gave some solid examples on how to use it.
In particular, the strongest case comes from using Minecraft as a Gateway tool to more disciplined 3D design. This makes fantastic sense, and with the tip to “up the challenge” to students as they design and build in Minecraft, it’s easy to see how Minecraft can foster a passionate interest and skill development in 3D design. I can see how this could quickly lead students to develop an interest in professional-level 3D design.
Other ideas I liked:
- Using Minecraft in world language classrooms, where students negotiate challenges using the target language, then journal about their experiences.
- Creating plays and movies in Minecraft.
- Teaching interpersonal skills by adding activities to the Minecraft experience, such as having students develop a Community Contract for the laws of how they will interact with each other in game.
I also liked how Seann talked about how elements not central to the gameplay itself—such as skinning the character models used in the game or figuring out how to mod the game in other ways—can lead to substantial technology skill development.
All around excellent stuff! If you want to learn more, you can check out his book: TeacherCraft: Minecraft in the Classroom