MinecraftEdu’s Increasing Presence in Classes
Educators are rapidly embracing Minecraft, an online simulation game in which gamers craft buildings and conceive of entire civilizations. These efforts proceed in an open world environment. Things have certainly progressed from educators imploring their students to stop playing Minecraft in favor of completing assignments. Now, teachers are seriously exploring ways that the Minecraft experience can advance the education of their students.
Joel Levin is a computer teacher at a private school in NYC. His foray into using Minecraft in the classroom evolved to the point that his enterprise, TeacherGaming LLC, has developed MinecraftEdu. This version of the global gaming phenomenon has been developed specifically for game based learning. As of December 2012, MinecraftEdu had already entered into the curriculum at almost 1000 schools and has even become mandatory in one Swedish school as well.
This success has given rise to MinecraftEdu Forums, an inspiring and lively community of educators and trailblazers that share their ideas and solve problems. Mr. Levin also maintains a blog at minecraftteacher.net.
At Del Mar Middle School in Tiburon, CA, history students are further understanding the subject through the Virtual Civilizations Project, which utilizes Minecraft. This project was enthusiastically endorsed by Principal Alan Vann Gardner, Ed.D. who detailed some of the advantages in a grant proposal:
- Creative Problem Solving – Teachers offer “What if?” scenarios which students can solve either in small groups or independently. Minecraft simulations offer a means for both creating these scenarios and finding solutions to them.
- Motivated Learning – Students construct entire civilizations (like Ancient Rome) that include architectural features derived from their studies in Ancient & World History. The high degree of creative autonomy offered allows students endless scenarios in which to develop personal pride and to learn to take risks.
- Citizen Engagement - Del Mar’s principal states his belief that a primary motivation for using Minecraft in the classroom is to help students to better understan the world in which they live today. Benchmarks have been established through the experience that guide students to compare the activities of their virtual Minecraft civilizations to contemporary social challenges.
- Evolution Of The Best Self – Students have the opportunity to learn that the way others are treated in this virtual world is as important as the way they are treated in the real world. They can become a part of an innovative community of learners and learn collaboration skills. Ultimately, the successful use of Minecraft in the classroom can develop students’ overall perspective on humanity.
The acceptance of Minecraft into the curriculums of so many schools in such a short time is quite a phenomenon. The diverse benefits of using Minecraft in education identified by Dr. Gardner at the Del Marr Middle School are impressive. The idea of motivated, engaged students learning to better understand themselves and their role in the world through Minecraft is both captivating and inspiring.