Tuesdays class changed the way I see the integration of technology in the classroom. Heidi James, a teacher from Colquitz Middle brought in a group of middle schoolers to teach our cohort how to play Minecraft. If you have spent any time around kids in the past 5 years you have probably heard of it. A widely popular game, Minecraft is an “open world game that promotes creativity, collaboration and problem solving”. Those nouns probably sound pretty familiar if you’re a BC educator, that’s because they are some of the core competencies in the new BC curriculum! Heidi uses Minecraft Edu, which is a classroom friendly version of Minecraft with features that allow the teacher to manage learners within the game, build challenges and choose or create students ‘worlds’. The Education edition also provides a 10 module training course and lesson plans. Heidi showed our class how game based learning is a student centered approach that incorporates prescribed learning outcomes with 21st century skills.
Minecraft is an immersive game which means that it is technology that attempts to recreate attributes of the physical world within a virtual world. A 3D block landscape where participants create and alter the ‘world’ they are dropped into. Players collect and re-purpose the 3D blocks, building shelters and crafting tools like a pick axe, that allow your avatar to mine for granite or the coveted obsidian. As well as building and mining, players can explore, gather resources , build communities and even learn to code.
I have always thought of video games as an isolating past time but when played in a classroom setting the game has the potential to increase social interactions. Players need to work together in order to ‘survive’ and end up communicating to their team mates beside them, face- to face, developing strategies or telling them where the ladder to the next floor is.
Having the Colquitz team facilitate a Minecraft how-to was a great example of how we as future educators can empower our students, work with their interests and help them become digitally literate citizens of the 21st century. What an exciting time to be an educator.