Updated: August 2, 2016

Earlier this year, I was asked how Minecraft can be used in education. At the time, I’d done some digging in just that topic because my kids were deep into the game, both solo and through home networking. Recently, I’ve been asked to share more. So in the next several posts I’ll explore just how Minecraft can be used in and outside of school. All it takes is an innovative teacher who is not deterred by the phrase, “that can’t be done here.”

Minecraft for Learning, Part 1: Student Voice

(Follow me on twitter at @jmccarthyeds to stay up to date on following posts.)

Minecraft has high potential for learning. While there are already formal structures being introduced for putting Minecraft into classrooms…

There is something at risk of being lost, which should lead the innovation: Student Voice in direction and design. The appeal of Minecraft, as I’ve observed with my 14 and 16 year old teens and their friends, is the open unstructured play. Everything that they build is based on their “need to knows” and inquiry. For example, my son and his friends explore and settle territory that they can gather resources for establishing an economy for trades and sales with other players. My daughter designs architectural wonders that could be set up in urban or rural settings, as well as creating whole new living spaces in seeming uninhabitable places such as in desserts or on water. The places always include a theme of self-sustainability. Last year, my son had a project whose final product was a presentation about a civilization. He came up with the idea of building the civilization in Minecraft. He wanted to build and then video record a tour so that people could view the tour or visit the place on the server (Did I mention that anyone can build a public server with Minecraft? They’re all over the place. My son built one and then used it to teach younger children how to play Minecraft). He convinced his student team of the merits for the idea. He pitched the idea to his teacher, who said no.

They would love to bring their Minecraft experiences into school, but on their terms. One example that this could work is for a teacher to identify clear academic learning criteria that must be demonstrated in a product, without defining the product itself. Let the students figure out how that would look in a virtual environment.

Here are other resources by different individuals who share a passion for Minecraft: