Sunday, May 3, 2015

Why MinecraftEdu in the Classroom?

This school year I was invited to attend the Connected and Learning: Teaching 21st Century Learners workshops. This was a three day workshop spread out throughout the school year. Educators from my area came together to learn about new technology tools to engage learners in the classroom. Several teachers were talking about how they use MinecraftEdu in the classroom. I was curious about what it was and how it worked.

Last week I went to a training on how to use MinecraftEdu in the classroom. To be honest, I had no idea how to play Minecraft at all. I just know that kids love it. Now there is an education version that teachers can use in the classroom, and thought I'd try it out.

So I went to the Teacher Gaming Tour workshop. The training allowed teachers to learn how to play the game and how to use it in the classroom. The nicest part, is that we were given the ability to download the game and let our students try it out until July.

Friday afternoon I used the easy to follow directions to set up our classroom server and the kids all tried out the tutorial world together. Within minutes, the kids had figured out the controls and the basics of the game.

But the best part, and the goal of the game in the classroom, is to get the kids communicating and problem solving together. Kids were out of their seats trying to show each other how to get somewhere or how to do something. My kiddo with complete flat affect who never shows emotion of any kind was smiling and laughing! I was sold right then and there.  We didn't even get to the community building activity yet!  I can't wait to see what happens when they build a house together.

At the end of the day after we had cleaned up and were lined up to go home all the kids could talk about was MinecraftEdu. "Do you remember when we broke the glass to open the door?" "I couldn't figure that out and you helped me!"  They were actually chatting about what they had done and how much fun they had.

What I really like about this "game" is the way they work together in the same world to problem solve and figure things out. It's not an individual game that they get absorbed into and forget about where they are and who is sitting next to them.  They work together. They turn to one another and ask how they figured it out and ask for help.

If you have the chance to attend a Teacher Gaming Tour, go! It's free and it allows you the chance to try out MinecraftEdu in your own classroom. I am already planning on purchasing the one-time licenses for our classroom for next school year. You only need to buy licenses for as many computers as you have, not for each student. It's super reasonable. There are tons of resources teachers have already created for you to use. Check it out here!