Monday 20 April 2020

Project 131: Minecraft Education

As Microsoft announced they were going to make a lot of their Minecraft Education resources available for free during the Coronavirus outbreak, we decided the children could explore some of them as a project. Minecraft goes in and out of fashion with the children, but as it seems very popular with all three at the moment, it couldn't have come at a better time. Minecraft has previously been the focus of one project (Project 31: Minecraft and Redstone), and incorporated in a number of others, from the Royal Mail to railways).

Over the week we explored six of the worlds that were made available: the Human BodyMarine BiologistInternational Space Station; Mount OlympusBees!; and Logic0. Where appropriate we supplemented the worlds with other book and video resources that we had available.

The most popular worlds for the children were those where you actually had to do specific tasks, for example, scanning the fish as a marine biologist. Whereas the International Space Station looked impressive from the outside, the children quickly bored of it.

Marine Biologist
International Space Station

Solomon and Monica were also tasked with coming up with an idea for their own worlds for educational purposes. Solomon suggested a Viking village with campfires and a longship so you could go off pillaging. Monica wanted to create a giant garden full of flowers: building models of flowers, planting flowers, and even a flower ferris wheel (nb. we explored Bees! after she had suggested her idea for a world).

It was interesting to explore such an eclectic set of Minecraft resources, but it was also a reminder of the affordances of different media. Minecraft Education can be a useful aid, and will undoubtedly get the children's attention, but if you want 'learning' it needs to be combined with other resources.

Next project: Black Beauty (...because we've had enough of screens for a week!)

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