Guest post by Megan Pusey, Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator.
If you have ever played a video game you will know how addictive and engaging they can be. Indeed, they are intentionally designed to be enjoyable to play. With 68% of Australians playing video games, it’s no surprise they are making their way into the classroom (IGEA 2016). One game in particular, Minecraft, has taken the world by storm selling over 106 million copies as of June 2016. If you haven’t seen or played it before Minecraft is a game where you can build anything you can imagine out of digital Lego.
I initially used Minecraft in my classroom to help engage my Year 8 (13 year-old) students in science. It was challenging to begin with as there weren’t many ready-to-go resources as the use of Minecraft in education was fairly new.
Some of the activities we did in Minecraft included: investigating where different types of rock are formed, measuring the speed of gravity and creating a model of the digestive system. Using a game where the students were all in the same digital world made it easy for students to collaborate and work in groups. All of my students, regardless of ability, were engaged and it was very easy to differentiate lessons.
When my husband started teaching he jumped on the Minecraft bandwagon as well. We surveyed our students (3 classes in total) before and after using Minecraft in our lessons. Using the results from these surveys we published a paper in an academic journal (you can read the full paper here). We found by using Minecraft in our lessons our students were more interested in science and using ICT in school.
A majority of students, 84% reported enjoying using Minecraft in the classroom and 94% said they wanted to use Minecraft in the classroom again. Both of us continue to use Minecraft and it is now a regular feature in our classrooms.
My advice to other teachers is to:
- Give it a go, even if you’re not a Minecraft expert.
- Use the Minecraft Mentors as a support network, they are super helpful and knowledgeable.
- Set some ground rules together with your class.
- Give students one or two lessons to learn how to play the game in the beginning. The tutorial world is great for this.
- Use a worksheet, screenshots or screen casting to collect evidence of student work.
Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (2016). Digital Australia 2016. Retrieved from http://www.igea.net/2015/07/digital-australia-2016-da16/
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