This afternoon, a group of middle school students visited our Technology Innovation in Education class (EDCI336) to show us about Minecraft. For this group of students, Minecraft is a big part of their education — they play it in class and in a club, and have obviously formed tight connections with each other as a result.
Although I don’t know very much about the game itself (and was barely functional playing it today), the benefits of bringing something like this into a class were immediately obvious to me. The students’ teacher told us about some of the amazing things that the group has tried and accomplished in the past: navigating using x and y coordinates, starting up businesses, replicating the Saanich coast, trading resources, and creating new challenges for players to navigate. The students even initiated an election in their club in order to establish clear leaders and roles. And, perhaps even more impressively, they all came to a university to present their work to pre-service teachers… imagine being able to say that you’ve been a guest lecturer at a university by Grade 6!
The advice we were given today is this: in whatever school you end up teaching at, find the students who are already doing these types of things and get them to take on leadership roles. In this instance, the teacher knew very little about Minecraft before including it in her classes, but the endeavour was highly successful because of her students.
This term, I’ve been especially interested in using games as educational tools, so this lesson on Minecraft was a huge highlight for me.
Here are a couple other games I’ve discovered this term, which I hope to use in my English classes in the future:
The Great Gatsby for NES (which is actually a free computer game) allows you to navigate the world of The Great Gatsby Mario-style, avoiding obstacles, powering up with items, and accomplishing small tasks in each level (e.g. “Find Gatsby”).
Pride and Prejudice Game requires a free download, but allows you to explore Austen’s fictional world.