Children across the globe have gone Minecraft crazy. What started as a two-person company in a small French town has blown up and consumed millions of little brains with over 200 million copies sold.
The almost prehistoric boxy and blurry graphics set Minecraft apart from any other blockbuster game. Simply put the game is made up of mining and crafting. You search for resources and then you use them to build other things. The first mission is to build a shelter to protect yourself for night time, which occurs every four hours. If you do not succeed then spiders, skeletons and zombies will eat your brains and your character dies. Don’t worry parents, there isn’t any blood or gore in Minecraft monster fighting.
Very little of the above description sounds educational, but according to scientists Minecraft can actually teach kids how to react in real-world situations. The game is what is called an “open-ended sandbox” which means there are no instructions and it can be very confusing at first. Kids and adults alike are forced to explore and try to figure out what is going on inside the game.
There are sites like Minecraft Wiki designed to help curious little minds find their way through the game. For example, I found my seven-year-old looking at videos on YouTube that she had searched out looking for Minecraft help. Kids can also find help from their peers who are other Minecraft players looking to achieve the same goals to learn tricks and tips.
Minecraft resources are very valuable while in-game. Other players can attack a character, kill them (remember there is no blood) and steal all of their loot. To succeed players have to learn how to safeguard their belongings from other players to avoid conflict. When players work together there is always the risk that one of the other builders could get angry and destroy the hours of hard work. So in other words, it is a dog-eat-dog world inside of Minecraft.
As cruel as it seems, kids are still mesmerized by the game and spend hours and hours perfecting their home, town, historical monument or indeed anything else you can think of. In Minecraft there are no rules and no limit to what your creativity can build.
Through teamwork, social skills, security awareness, creativity, research, problem solving and a lot of determination, it is clear to see that Minecraft could easily transfer to real-life solutions to real-life problems. And this is precisely the reason that many educators have chosen to use Minecraft as a tool in the classroom.
Minecraftedu.com has been specifically created for educators and children in a classroom setting. By providing thousands of licences to teachers Minecraft has allowed children to learn important life lessons in an engaging environment (what child doesn’t love to play games?) The foundation features lesson plans that are added by educators daily to function as a collective group or community.
As mentioned in the video clip, digital citizenship is becoming more and more important as our reliance on technology increases. Children are needing to understand online safety, ethics, bullying and etiquette at a younger and younger age. Minecraft creates a platform that interests children and encourages them to adopt digital citizenship ideas in a controlled classroom environment.
As a major supporter of STEAM education (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) we encourage our local youth to explore technology at an early age and see how far their creativity can take them. Read more about our STEAM efforts here when we take an elementary school and a bunch of cool gadgets like Raspberry Pi to see what we can learn together.
To find out more about games and their potential use in the classroom visit: GamesAndImpact.org
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