Ever since the technology became available, there have been educational video games designed specifically for learning. These often had a single educational outcome and aim to the game, which meant that, for each individual subject, you would have to invest in a different game. The downside is that subject-specific games do not allow for the content to be adapted to fit the learning environment, which is fine if you want to learn a specific skill but not so great if you want to explore ideas or expand on a subject in a more creative way.
Minecraft was never designed to be an educational game, so how exactly has it ended up being used in learning spaces in more than 100 countries around the world, in every language? Like most revolutions, it began with one person seeing a way to create positive change. A maverick teacher called Joel Levin had started to use Minecraft within his classroom but sensed it had more potential to engage learners in a new and exciting way. He reached out to Santeri Koivisto, of TeacherGamingLLC, and together they devised a Minecraft Mod (add-on modification) that provided teachers with the classroom management tools to deliver cross-curricular classroom-based activities within Minecraft. MinecraftEdu was released in 2011. When Microsoft purchased MinecraftEdu in 2016 to assimilate into its new Minecraft: Education Edition, there were over 7000 classrooms using it, in over 40 countries, including the country-wide roll out of MinecraftEdu across every secondary school in Northern Ireland, facilitated by Mark Nagurski (CultureTech).
Minecraft: Education Edition is sold as “an open-world game that promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving in an immersive environment where the only limit is your imagination”. It highlights the following five keywords in their marketing to educators: motivate, inspire, ignite, unlock, achieve. These are the holy grail ingredients of most educators, both within mainstream education settings and learning at home. Minecraft: Education Edition promises to motivate students to learn, inspire their interest, ignite their passion for discovery, and unlock their potential to achieve more. It also has versatility and flexibility, making it a learning platform that can be adapted to any, and every, subject and learner.
“One of the reasons Minecraft fits so well in the classroom is because it’s a common, creative playground. We’ve seen that Minecraft transcends the differences in teaching and learning styles and education systems around the world. It’s an open space where people can come together and build a lesson around nearly anything.” (Vu Bui, COO of Mojang)
There have been some amazing content created specifically for learning spaces and we will look at some of these in more depth in future Noodles.
Minecraft, used in learning spaces, disrupts the power structures between ‘teacher’ and ‘learner’. The children are the experts and the ‘teacher’ is no longer the gate-keeper of knowledge. Instead, children are able to co-create, lead, and inspire. They are able to work peer-to-peer and across countries. They can direct the shape of their learning and find their own expression within this.
“...It’s transforming education for a lot of educators and students, especially the ones who are willing to take a step back and say ‘if I give you this opportunity, what can you create?’ That kind of thing is a big shift from me being the keeper of the knowledge in the front of the room...” (Steve Isaacs).
Is this enough to change the world? Educators play a big part in shaping the future — we can probably all name an educator who affected the course of our lives, either positively or negatively. The best educators, either within educational settings or at home, are the ones that are able to see the passion within a student and nurture it through positive opportunity and encouragement. They are the ones who can create space for the individual to thrive so that this child can grow into an adult who knows themselves, knows what they love, values their ideas, and is in communication with and connected to, their authentic selves. Minecraft certainly seems to be a space where that kind of learning can happen. Will it change the world? We think that the late Ken Robinson sums it up very well in his famous TEDTalk, so we will close with his words;
“...I meet all kinds of people who don't enjoy what they do. They simply go through their lives getting on with it. They get no great pleasure from what they do. They endure it rather than enjoy it, and wait for the weekend. But I also meet people who love what they do and couldn't imagine doing anything else...it's not true of enough people...I think there are many possible explanations for it. And high among them is education, because education, in a way, dislocates very many people from their natural talents. And human resources are like natural resources; they're often buried deep. You have to go looking for them, they're not just lying around on the surface. You have to create circumstances where they show themselves...Every education system in the world is being reformed at the moment and it's not enough...What we need — is not evolution, but a revolution in education...” (Ken Robinson, TEDTalk)
How to change the world, one block at a time...Be open to discovering new things.
Cool Free Minecraft content:
Bedrock (pc, console)
The Human Body
Welcome to a unique adventure inside the human body. Step into a huge Minecraft laboratory put on your lab coat, and start to explore. + Take a walk through the digestive system + Explore the human skeleton + Ride a minecart inside the human bloodstream + Visit 10 major body organs and watch interactive animations + 4 lab skins Time to discover your inner scientist!
JAVA (Mac, PC, Linux)
DESCRIPTION: THE HEIST
In the Heist the player tries to avoid security systems such as cameras, guard robots, lasers, sonar etc in order to steal valuable prototypes from a high-security underground research facility. The player accomplishes this with the help of his/her Gameband which has various functions such as being able to hack numpads and consoles, see through walls with x-ray vision, stun robots, stick to ceilings etc. This map features stunning in-game models and animated textures as well as ingame custom sounds and voice acting. The map is a game on its own, as in it completely drops the traditional Minecraft Mechanics such as crafting or fighting mobs. Instead of health, the player has to deal with Awareness. Every time the player gets spotted by a camera or guard robot the alarm level will rise. As soon as the alarm level reaches 100% the alarm triggers, the whole place goes on lockdown and the player is busted whereafter they get reset to their latest checkpoint. In order to avoid this the player relies on the various functions of the Gameband they get gradually unlocked throughout the game. The only problem is that every time the player uses an ability it consumes energy. When your energy runs out you have will find a recharge station to restore your energy.
The Heist is a very unique game that relies on over 6000 command blocks in order to work and is one of the most advanced maps released to date.
- Minecraft 1.8.7
- Render Distance: 8 Chunks (This is not optional!)
- Enable Sound: This map has voice acting and custom sounds
- Alternate Blocks: ON (Check video settings)
- 2GB RAM or higher allocated to Minecraft
- A good Processor (This game is very CPU heavy)
- Avoid using custom Fonts
What we are playing
Horizon Zero Dawn
Experience Aloy’s legendary quest to unravel the mysteries of a future Earth ruled by Machines. Use devastating tactical attacks against your prey and explore a majestic open world in this award-winning action RPG!
What we are reading
Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell
What we are selling - Wizard and Wyld
LAND OF LOVE - Minecraft Marketplace
Welcome to Amylee33s's Land of Love, a roleplay ready world for you and your friends to visit and enjoy. Explore all your favourite places, and discover new and exciting secrets and mini-games.
Book a session with us…
Want to learn more about home-educating, video-games and how to make the most of digital online learning spaces? We can offer bespoke 1:1 video-linked consultancy and small-group webinars for parents, educators and organisations. Email us for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Next week - Wonder Quest…