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Teachers Take Advantage of Minecraft in the Classroom

Teachers Take Advantage of Minecraft in the Classroom

Minecraft, a computer game where students can create their own structures out of blocks, is becoming a very popular tool in the classroom.

The game has more than 18 million downloads and is the best-selling computer game of all time, according to an article on TheAtlantic.com. The game's free-form structure "has made it popular with kids and adults alike."

"But little by little, teachers, parents, and students have discovered that the game can be used for educational purposes, too," the article said. "Former teacher Joel Levin and his colleagues founded a startup called TeacherGaming that aims to bring Minecraft into classrooms everywhere, helping students and teachers of all disciplines use their creativity to design projects, free from the kinds of limitations they would face using traditional methods."

According to Levin, "teachers already want to use these games in the classrooms," he said in the article. The article said that Levin and his colleagues "work to make the software more intuitive and suited to their needs so that teachers—and students—can use the games in classrooms and have fun while they’re at it."

In 2010, Levin decided to try out Minecraft with his second grade class, the article said. "The segment that involved Minecraft was intended to last a week, but Levin used the game for the rest of the semester, teaching students to type by allowing them to communicate with each other in the game and showing them how to do online research by trawling the vast Minecraft forums for specific information."

But getting there wasn’t easy; Levin spent a lot of time customizing the game to fit his instructional needs. Minecraft is an open-ended game with a never-ending landscape and digitally rendered resources. In certain game modes, players have to gather resources to craft shelter, tools, and armor to meet basic needs and survive battles with one another. But the part that players seem to enjoy the most is the construction element, in which they build entities like functional computers or reconstruct landscapes such as the entire country of Denmark.

Levin coded it himself, the article said, and the outcome was "worth it." According to the article, "Levin’s students learned more than just the hard skills he had intended for them to they pick up—they were also having profound discussions about topics that were notoriously challenging for teachers to communicate effectively."

"It led to conversations in the classroom about how we treat these virtual spaces that we all find ourselves in, especially the young people that are coming into this complicated world of social networking," Levin said. "Are we going to treat our class’ Minecraft world as an extension of our classroom? Do the rules that apply in the school building also apply on our Minecraft server? What happens if someone breaks those rules?"

Now, the article said, "three years since its inception, TeacherGaming now has nine employees that have worked to create MinecraftEdu, which has been sold to schools in 42 countries and six continents."

Read the full story and comment below.

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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