Ok, I have to admit it. After nearly an hour of messing around on Minecraft (the lite addition for my phone as I still connect via computer, grrr) I actually googled ‘what is the point of minecraft.’ I wasn’t alone. Several answers came up and it actually calmed my brain a little to read that the general consensus is there is no point. It’s like electronic legos. I think I needed some background on the game, as simplified as that was, for me to realize there really wasn’t a hidden goal or agenda. The destination is the journey, so to speak.
After this relaxing revelation, I likened Minecraft a bit to Tetris. I found that as of yet, I’m really not a fan personally. But I know why – games like Tetris or generic card games give me an outlet to absently play while I think through and process other issues in my life. You can’t necessarily multi-task that much with Minecraft if you’re serious about what you’re doing, and that is a good thing. In order for it to be engaging for students, it should be grabbing their full attention. So while I’m not enjoying myself personally, for the same reasons I’m not a fan for myself, I can see the potential for classroom/educational use.
Mindshift (2013) describes Minecraft as “one of the best examples of the potential learning with games because it embraces exploration, discovery, creation, collaboration, and problem-solving while allowing teachers to shepherd play toward any subject area.” These are huge areas that teachers stress about meeting. The hook, the staying power, the students demonstrating their learning..all huge challenges. Mindshift goes on to note that Minecraft has “introduced a lot of youth to games as well as the critical thinking, problem solving, and creation skills necessary for self-motivated learning” (Mindshift, 2013).
It appears that the introduction of Minecraft EDU has opened up some learning opportunities that take away some of the monsters and distractions of regular minecraft. One example of using Minecraft was a group junior high project. “The teams researched their civilizations, created them from scratch in Minecraft EDU, wrote a summary explaining the 5 characteristics in each civilization and created their first screencast touring their virtual world“ (Gerbrick, 2010). Teachers can use MinecraftEdu to “drop students into a world of ancient cultures, Chemistry, English, and more” (Waxman, 2012).
Smith-Robbins (2011) states, “in order to make gamification compelling, we need to do the following:
- Make goals clear
- Make progress transparent
- Think about your own game play (or in this case, the game play of your audience).”
Gerbrick, M. (2010, May 19). Educational Technology in Schools and At Home. [Web log post]. Partners in Learning. Retrieved from: http://partnersinlearning-mgerbrick.blogspot.com/
MindShift. (2013, November 19). Beyond Minecraft: Games that Inspire Building and Exploration. Retrieved from: http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/11/beyond-minecraft-games-that-inspire-building-and-exploration/
Smith-Robbins, S. (2011). “This Game Sucks”: How to Improve the Gamification of Education. Educause Review, January/February 2011, 58-59. Retrieved from: http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/game-sucks-how-improve-gamification-education
Waxman, O.B. (2012, September 21). MinecraftEdu teaches students through virtual world-building [Web log post]. Time. Retrieved from http://techland.time.com/2012/09/21/minecraftedu-teaches-students-through-virtual-world-building/