By Anne Collier
No need to leave connected learning to the imagination. Well, sort of – plenty is left to students’ imaginations! Teacher Jacqui Murray in southern California spells out in a blog post exactly how she uses Minecraft for students to work on reading comprehension, writing and problem-solving.
She agrees with New Jersey K-8 teacher Marianne Malmstrom on what makes Minecraft so great for learning: “Players start with nothing and must build their way to security, safety, food, shelter, companionship. What a primer in problem solving!” And the applications are limitless, she writes. Colleagues have used the game for building “molecules for a chemistry class, designs for 3D printing, and bridges for an 8th grade science project.”
Murray folds in other digital tools in the process: “We use Twitter as a shared resource, and students become Minecraft Tweeple, tweeting questions and answers using #hashtags. When they solve a prickly game problem, they type #problem with their name into our class Twitter stream and lay it out in 140 characters.”
The interesting thing about all this is that Minecraft and other digital environments work so well in school because they were designed as games, which are especially suited to learning and problem-solving in a fast-changing, complex, networked world. Children learn through play, and a playful disposition is what enables players (of any age) to navigate complexity and rapidly changing information and conditions. So don’t be distracted by the digital part of digital games; focus on the play. Our children were born playful, not digital – digital is just a vast new “place” where worlds of play and learning can happen – if we can just get them into school!
- “Why kids need more, not less, play”
- “Minecraft & the shared, creative safety of gaming & social media”
- Australian educator Bronwyn Stuckey citizenship learning – a “lived curriculum” in Minecraft, Part 1 and Part 2
- “Digital media’s power for all kinds of good: One student’s story”
- Guest blog series by teacher Marianne Malmstrom: “Mining Minecraft” – Part 1 “Little gamers’ digital play through a teacher’s eyes”; Part 2 “Why we need digital environments in school”; Part 3 “Safety & citizenship in games (do try this at home!)”