Friday, 28 November 2014

How to set up Inter-school Minecraft Learning Adventures


Students will learn:
How to collaborate and communicate on web based projects with global colleagues
How to self-direct their learning in a games-based environment
How to employ computational thinking to build functioning machines in minecraft

Overview:
Students from geographically remote schools collaborate and construct technical creations in Minecraft as a learning platform.

Objectives:
  • Students plan, design and collaboratively create structures and functioning machines in Minecraft.
  • Students learn how to communicate and collaborate effectively in web based projects.
  • Students have real global audiences for their creations.
  • Students run virtual excursions for other schools in their minecraft world creations.

Requirements:
  1. Student Minecraft accounts- It is better if the students use their own Minecraft accounts to facilitate learning anytime/anywhere. You can acquire accounts here: https://minecraft.net/store/minecraft
  2. Server- If you have a fast internet connection (min. 50Mbps) at your school you can host the server yourself. Recommended server details: http://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Server/Requirements/Server If you don’t have a fast connection you can buy online Realms: https://minecraft.net/realms
  3. Devices- Minecraft works on most devices (great if you are a diverse BYOD school). Students usually prefer laptops however.
  4. System Requirements: https://help.mojang.com/customer/portal/articles/325948-minecraft-system-requirements
Preparation:
  • Ensure your students all have minecraft accounts. Initial setup is easier if you utilise the Minecraft Jedi in your class/es.
  • Liase with your IT Dept. to ensure minecraft will be accessible on your school network. Request that they open ports & domains if needed.
  • Set some basic rules- students to be polite in all communications. No griefing (griefing is a minecraft term for being destructive or rude in-world)
  • Create and share with students a collaborative document detailing the project, rules and ideas.
  • Students can go in-world at any time BUT there needs to be balance with time management. Set a 30-60 min time each week where students from each school meet in-world and have a live video conference (skype, hangout) at the same time so students can converse face-to-face.
Launch:
Make your Mineclass project launch exciting and fun. Let your students meet (video conference) and introduce themselves face-to-face. Give them time to talk and discuss project ideas. Let them form sub-teams if required. Then let students go in-world for the first time. It is important to let them just play and muck around the first time they meet in-world. They may show off their minecraft skills. There may be some griefing. Use this as an opportunity to reiterate the rules.


Project design:
The spectrum of projects in Minecraft is almost limitless. For some ideas look here: http://youtu.be/RI0BN5AWOe8
Students can create working calculators, toilets, computers, organic cells, sports stadiums with working scoreboards etc.

Computational Thinking:
To create really cool working machines in minecraft coding and computational thinking is required. Redstone and command block commands are the magic ingredient. Info on how to use redstone can be found here:http://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Redstone


Student directed learning:
At this point in the project most teachers begin freaking out at their lack of minecraft skills. DON’T PANIC! The students can teach you the basics! :) When the project gets to the level of sophistication where it needs special requirements from the system you need to employ some of your students as admins.

Student Admins:
Admins are the moderators in Minecraft. They can change variables, teleport players around, basically be omniscient. They are a much needed resource if your project gets out of hand or students begin griefing. Choose your admins carefully. You don’t want students to misuse their position of authority. This can be a great learning experience also.

Assessment:
You can use Minecraft as an assessment project. Or not. If you want to link it to curriculum outcomes use screencasts, screengrabs and conversation records as evidence.

Audience:
Once your students have created their amazing structures they can facilitate virtual excursions for students from other schools. These excursions can also be workshops where students teach other Minecraft skills.
I hope you choose to explore Minecraft as a collaborative learning platform for your students. The learning evidenced through my project has been phenomenal. Have fun! :)




2 comments:

  1. Looks good Matt. Looking forward to including it in my year 8 elective. Have a great Christmas and New Year. Chat in 2015.

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