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Why Educators Should Use Minecraft in the Classroom

EducationWorld is pleased to share this article by education writer James Drzewiecki. Also, don’t miss the related article Site Review: MinecraftEdu.

It has pigs, creepers, spiders and even a dragon, and it’s all the rage with kids (and quite a few adults). Minecraft has over 100 million users across various platforms, and educators are increasingly using the game as a teaching tool. So what is it, and how can students benefit?

How Minecraft works

At its core, Minecraft is about placing and mining blocks. The game world consists of 3D objects—mainly cubes—that represent materials such as dirt, stone, various ores, water and tree trunks. Players gather these material blocks and use them to form various constructions.

When the game begins, players must work quickly, with friends or by themselves, to build shelter to survive the night (when all the monsters of the world come out). Once they finish a day (20 minutes in real time), users repeat the cycle, building more complex shelters and stocking up on vital resources in order to survive.

Available game modifications, called mods, add a variety of gameplay changes. One mod, MinecraftEdu, is designed to make the game more classroom-friendly. The mod allows educators to incorporate their own curricular content and run a custom server for each of their classes.

Benefits of Minecraft in the classroom

  • Minecraft gives students the freedom to create, pushing their imaginations to the limit and allowing them to be creative in ways not possible in the real world.
  • Inherently about problem-solving, the game can inspire students’ higher-level and critical thinking.
  • Minecraft is also a very social game, where students can rely on other players for help in the sometimes-unforgiving Minecraft world. When students work together, it builds positive classroom climate, teaches the benefits of collaboration and facilitates teamwork in a way that’s more organic than, say, being assigned to work together on a project. Students who might not get along in the real world can become allies in the Minecraft world.

With the right imagination and creativity, teachers can implement any sort of lesson into the world of Minecraft—the possibilities are endless.

 

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