The Benefits of Minecraft EE

Since the education edition of Minecraft launched in 2016, the sandbox game has been used in thousands of classrooms around the world. From schools in America and Canada to New Zealand and Australia, it seemed everyone with a Degree in Education was waxing-lyrical about the block-building program – albeit everyone except me! 🙁

As a primary school Tech-Teacher and Multimedia Learning Specialist, you’d think I’d be an early adopter of the Minecraft: Education Edition software, but you’d be wrong. It took me several years to decide to implement the software as part of my classroom curriculum. As far as I was concerned, kids were spending too much time on their digital devices at home; I wasn’t about to continue the trend at school. Apart from that, I couldn’t see the value of Minecraft from an educational standpoint. It was a silly block game! I was wrong.

From my initial look at the ‘silly’ block game, I wasn’t impressed. I couldn’t see how Minecraft would integrate into my classroom curriculum. It certainly didn’t inspire me to adopt it as part of my coding or STEM program! (At the time, I was using Lego EV3 Mindstorm robotics/coding software and Scratch. Comparatively, Minecraft looked like a simple game with little to no value.) So, like a blockhead (pun intended 😉 ) I abandoned it.

It’s rare for a popular video game like Minecraft to have universal appeal, much less educational value, so when I returned to the game many months later, I was surprised by how engaging I found it – particularly from a creative-thinking standpoint. Delving a little deeper, I could see the game had value in developing critical thinking skills and multiplicative thinking strategies, too. I started to see the light!

My subsequent research (a Google search), returned hundreds of sites and a feast of digital information to digest. Minecraft really had taken over the world from under my nose! Still, I held back from deploying the software in my program. I wanted to see solid educational research conducted around its value in a classroom environment. I wanted to see if it really was a long-term force for quality learning or just a short-term time waster.

Two years later, I can now safely say that the education edition of Minecraft has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on learners around the world. Research from the best learning institutions all agree, it has merit and value. Even the Victorian Department of Education in Australia saw the light and declared it a ‘must-have’ software package, ensuring all teachers and students have free access to the software in schools. It was time to admit I was wrong about the ‘silly’ block game and do the inevitable! It was time to start my own Minecraft journey!

And that brings us to why I decided to start this blog page which was/is to detail my Minecraft learning journey. I also want it to be a place for teachers/educators who want to use the software in their own classrooms, but aren’t sure where to start. I hope this blog will help you.

As I move forward on my journey, I’d love to hear from you so leave me a comment below

Set-up For Blockheads…

Before we start, let’s go back to where it all began ( … or is that an oxymoron? 😉 ). On Friday, 8th of June 2018 James Merlino (Minister for Education) made an important announcement that included the following statement…

“Every government school student will have access to Minecraft: Education Edition as part of a new partnership with the Andrews Labor Government to give students access to the very best digital and science technology.”

Since the Ministers’ announcement, the education edition of Minecraft has been available to all Victorian government schools, students and staff. It has been implemented in hundreds of schools around the state – and for good reason! To read the media release, click the following link – https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/180608-New-Programs-For-Schools-To-Build-Digital-Tech-Skills.pdf

When I decided to implement Minecraft as part of my classroom program, I had no idea what to do or how to do it. I didn’t know where to find the software or how to use it. 🙁 Fortunately, the school I work at has a great ICT technician named Lachlan Gilbert along with an amazing ICT Leading Teacher named Michele Tan. 🙂 One warm summer afternoon, the three of us – all Minecraft novices – sat down and installed the software on our school devices. The process took longer than we expected, but we got there in the end. 🙂

If you’re a Victorian teacher and would like to download and install the education edition of Minecraft from the EduStar portal, check out the infographic (left) to learn how.

Playing Minecraft can be a lot of fun, but it’s important for students to understand that the Education Edition of the game is not just about escaping from zombies in survival mode or building/destroying random content in creative mode. This version of the game is about using the software as a way to develop critical thinking skills, agency in learning and code building skills.

 

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