In class today we had some students come in from Colquitz Middle School to show us how to use Minecraft, and their teacher gave some specifics on setting it up for a classroom for learning.
I have watched my niece and nephews use it over the years and never really got why it was so interesting. I have to admit, I still don’t love the graphics and find it a bit slow, but I can totally see the draw now. The ability to create anything, any world, any type of place with any type of creatures is exciting. You can play alone or with other people and change what is allowed in the world. Being able to choose how you do what you do is the ultimate personalization, and when kids are surrounded by things already made and done for them, this is a great thing to have.
I did get a little dizzy and my stomach started turning at one point – too much movement on the screen for me. But I am also quite sick today and already have a rather massive headache so that was not helping me at all. Even as I’m writing this I’m wishing I was in bed right now instead of at this computer! So I’m thinking it would be easier once I was well and got used to using it so I wasn’t constantly running into walls.
The students were excellent tutors – from getting set up on the right server to helping us with controls and all the “how to” information. They clearly loved using the game and were engaged in helping the whole time they were here.
For using this in the classroom, particularly art, there were a couple of suggestions: we could create a pixelated version of a famous art piece using a flat world, we could create a 3D concept using Minecraft and then replicate in real world. It is also used in social studies classrooms – creating ancient worlds and trying to live in them like ancient Egypt – showing the kids how challenging it would be through the use of video games is so much more engaging than reading in a textbook alone. Once they see the real application to them (in the game) they will remember better what they were taught. Not only that, but it opens up the creative thinking process and develops problem solving skills. When they work in groups they can work together to solve problems and protect each other, which is amazing for real world learning and developing students into empathetic adults. I also see it as leadership development, particularly for kids that are already using Minecraft – they can help the other students who are new to it.
Overall I could see how this could be a great resource for classes. I am not sure it is what I would use – in visual art there is so much tactile work, and in drama it is all about movement and voice and not sitting in front of a computer – so I don’t see the need to use computers in those environments. But for other classes that are traditionally more dry and lecture based this could be extremely helpful.