Over the past 12 months I have become more and more intrigued by the fascination that my students (and my son) have in the game Minecraft. In June 2013 I went to an Edutech Conference in Brisbane and listened to a couple of speakers share their experiences using Minecraft with a class. I had also read a number of articles and websites about teachers using this program to teach topics such as Federation and Sustainability.
In my role as ICT Pedagogy Coordinator I am always trying to find ways that teachers can use technology to engage and enhance students’ learning. Here was a program that the students were already using and excited about so how could I build on this and integrate it into the curriculum?
Over a number of months my ICT technician (who is amazing!) and I began researching the best way to set up Minecraft at school. We ended up purchasing a license through Minecraft Edu to set up Minecraft on 25 computers in our computer room. Minecraft Edu allows us to set up a multi-player server that we can monitor and have control over as teachers/administrators.
Finally, we had Minecraft installed on the computers and the buzz around the school was exciting. However, I was still apprehensive about how this program worked, how I could use it to assist students’ learning, and how we would manage and monitor it. I realised that I needed help and who better to help me than the students; after all they really are the experts!
I decided that we would set up a Minecraft Club. The club would become my experts and advisors. Our first meeting was last Friday and we had 19 excited year 5 – 7 boys turn up. I explained that we would be setting up a club and that in order for this to work we would need to set up some ground rules, expectations and guidelines for people to be in our club. The boys were great. They discussed and debated a number of things – do we allow the world to be creative or survival mode (they agreed on survival but we would turn off PVP and cheats), definitely no greifing (I think this is wrecking and stealing other people’s things), and is Herobrine real or not (this was way over my head!!)
The boys decided that if people did the wrong thing during the club we would freeze the game and discuss the problem and decide on a consequence for that person as a group.
They educated me on mods (animals, monsters basically anything that moves), monsters – spiders, zombies, skeletons and slime, the nether (an Armageddon type world) and a lot more. My head was spinning by the end of the lunch session.
We have agreed that we will meet next week and I will show them the teacher administrator controls and we will set up our world. They will help me decide what we need to turn on and off in our world.
Before then I am going to attempt to create my own Minecraft world and hopefully survive my first night – I have learnt I need to make sure I have wood and coal to make fire and then try to find a shelter to hide through the night.
Wish me luck!!