How Minecraft Will Be Used In Classrooms
Microsoft isn’t just hoping to take over idle time with videogames, it’s bringing them to the classroom, too. The recently launched MinecraftEdu after taking it over from an independent developer that has already brought the game into more than 7,000 classrooms in 40 countries. But why bring this blocky role play into increasingly tech-savvy classrooms?
Personalized Mass Learning
The Minecraft educational platform allows for something classrooms haven’t really seen before – a way to individualize learning while still keeping the class on track. The education platform includes a library of lessons and activities to help teachers guide students through subjects including math, engineering, programming, history, language, art, and more.
While the teachers are able to maintain a cohesive subject and lesson plan, the format of the game allows students to interact individually and create their own spaces and processes, allowing them to learn in their own ways while still focusing on the core content. This, in turn, helps students who don’t take as well to formal lecture environments, allowing teachers to see how individual students learn rather than trying to create a lesson of mass-appeal.
Teachers are able to adapt the product to their own curriculum and share activities across classrooms, and is supported by hands-on workshops, courses, and technical support. Additionally, improved mapping features allow the class to find its way around with greater ease and collect and scrapbook screenshots to catalogue where in the virtual world students have been.
Microsoft isn’t making drastic changes to Minecraft, as a whole. It’s still a game first, and with it’s almost astonishing usership, the powers that be want to keep it that way. Instead, the focus is on helping teachers create and navigate curriculums using the existing gaming platform as a tool.
The success of MinecraftEdu doesn’t just depend on adoption of the platform, but participation, and for many that’s a good thing. The website meant to complement the educational edition of the game allows teachers to submit worlds and lessons for use by others, creating a comprehensive library of lessons meant to cover a breadth of subjects.
For many teachers, this is a win-win. It allows them to create and customize lessons based on their school’s curriculum while at the same time drawing from others who might have stronger lessons in other areas based on their expertise and their school standards. The success of the operation is highly dependant on faculty willingness to participate and share, though, and with the new educational platform only recently launched, the eventual success of the shared lesson strategy is still to be determined.
That being said, Minecraft is based on a long and hearty tradition of sharing user generated content, and Microsoft doesn’t seem to anticipate much of a problem in getting that to translate into the classroom. In fact, it’s built into Microsoft’s whole strategy for the education edition. Since it’s something teachers have been doing informally for years now, it seems likely that MinecraftEdu is going to flourish as a teaching tool