The idea of playing video and computer games in the classroom is not new. According to a national survey of 500 teachers who use digital games in the classroom, 32% said that they use them 2-4 times a week, 18% use them every day and 70% of these teachers said the games increased students’ motivation and engagement levels. Educational software can be a very useful tool for the cleaver educator.
A New York City school teacher Joel Levin is co-owner and creator of MinecraftEdu. MinecraftEdu is the collaboration of educators and programmers from the United States and Finland. This collaboration’s sole purpose is to help teachers incorporate Minecraft as a teaching aid.
Before MinecraftEdu was created, Levin used Minecraft in his classroom and blogged about the experience. He began receiving emails from other teachers sharing their stories about using the game in their classrooms. “Around the world, Minecraft is being used to educate children on everything from science to city planning,” Levin explains.
A history teacher in Australia set up “quest missions” where students can wander through and explore ancient worlds. An English-language teacher in Denmark told children they could play Minecraft collectively in the classroom but with one caveat: language immersion. They were only allowed to communicate in English. Viktor Rydberg School in Stockholm Sweden made Minecraft compulsory for 13-year-old students. “They learn about city planning, environmental issues, getting things done and even how to plan for the future,” explained one of the teachers at the school.
Minecraft works best when teachers establish boundaries, pose challenges, answer questions, empower and nuture student’s autonomous learning. Much like the real world, Minecraft’s open-ended style is thought to demonstrate that an online community is what you make of it. As players develop and progress, they will come to benefit from all its valuable lessons.