She ordered and I installed it. It worked. Mostly. I had to figure out a few issues but overall, just know that if I can get a MinecraftEDU server going, anyone can. Really. I know there are things that could be tweaked and controls we could be utilizing that we have yet discovered, but for practical purposes, we are up and the kids are building. Seriously, if you are considering it and want to run it off your own server, they have created software that makes it really easy to do. Look into it here. Also, I discovered Joel Levin aka The Minecraft Teacher (@mindcraftteachr on the Twitter) who has been proven to be a very knowledgeable and responsive resource for us during this project. Follow him if you are looking to connect with someone who knows this stuff really well.
|Students playing Minecraft|
So that's how we got here...and "here" is the best part. This class is now one of her favorites and I believe most of the boys would say the same thing. They are engaged and learning through this game. It's truly a #WINWIN. Some of them were already experts at the game while others were complete newbies (me and the teacher being 2 of those). Here are some of things that we have observed as a result of students getting involved in this game:
- Apathetic students have become actively, authentically engaged AND enjoy it.
- Students who kept to themselves socially are now interacting with their peers to solve problems and share what they know about the game as they work cooperatively on challenges.
- Students who were disruptive and creating management issues are seemingly using their powers for good in the game and meeting behavior expectations in the class.
- Rich conversations are happening around "citizenship" in the digital world of Minecraft. Some students have destroyed others' creations or set into motion within the game things that have created problems for others in their community which has sparked meaningful, student-driven dialogue on what is appropriate behavior in the Minecraft space. I believe it is also forcing them to reflect on their behavior in the actual classroom space as well.
- Newbies are now gaining command of the Minecrafter's language and controls, growing their confidence to explore and build within the game.
- Experts are taking leadership roles and helping their peers, developing patience and teaching others what they know about the game.
- The teacher is modeling what it means to be a learner alongside her students because she also is newbie.
- Students are beginning to police themselves and develop ways to solve problems through communication and collaboration.
- Students journal on their individual experiences within the game, sharing their ideas as well as their frustrations.
- We have figured out how to bring in maps that others have created to challenge the students with specific dilemmas they must work out.
Also, we are still working to figure out all the workings of the server-side of the game, how to best manage the data, modify things and get the most out of this transformative gaming environment.
The next steps are going to involve exploring maps and searching the forums to find out how other teachers are using Minecraft with their students. She is also looking at having her students build websites sharing their knowledge on the game as well as giving them blogs where they will be able to share their personal experiences involving Minecraft and their learning.
If you have anything to offer regarding Minecraft in the classroom be it links to resources, your own blog posts, pitfalls, examples of student creations, whatever, PLEASE share in the comments.
More to come...