Club Proposal: Minecraft EDU

Authors:  Mr. DeBoyace, Kris Keator, Dylan Webster

Objective

        To create an after-school Minecraft EDU club, where students collaborate on student-led and student-directed, teacher-guided projects.

What is Minecraft

Minecraft is a “sandbox” game which allows users to construct things out of blocks in a creative environment.  It is a first-person, open-world environment composed of 3d objects that represent real-world objects, and that can be manipulated in a variety of ways.[1]

Minecraft is tremendously popular, recording approximately 241.9 million logins per month worldwide.[2]  This number includes it’s popularity among school-aged children of all ages including the population at Cherry Valley-Springfield.

What is MinecraftEDU

Minecraft EDU is a custom modification that works on top of the Minecraft game platform.  It allows designated teachers to create, and control the environment, to optimize student participation and engagement, and to ensure fair and collaborative gameplay.  It additionally comes with custom world-building tools, allowing teachers to build custom environments to better incorporate personalized curriculum content.  

Club Purpose

        The purpose of the after-school Minecraft EDU club will be to:

a) Create a fun, interactive club

b) Engage and build rapport with students

c) Pilot Game-Based Learning (GBL) at Cherry Valley-Springfield

Create a fun, interactive club

Minecraft’s popularity within the student body cannot be underestimated.  It attracts students of both genders, students in a  wide-range of ages, as well as students of a wide-range of computer skills.  The club would be a student-directed, collaborative, educational endeavor.  It will be a fun environment for students,and it will make them feel like they are in control of their learning and even give them a positive view about school. The club could also give student a more positive day and something to look forward to.  They would be happy throughout the day and motivate them to bring up their grades.

Engage and Build Rapport with Students

The great majority of students play games - and the stereotype of a “gamer” has progressively been defied.[3]  In Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out, Ito and Bittanti (2009) note that "gaming occupies a complicated position in relation to structures of ages, class, and gender because of its status as a technically-driven recreational activity usually associated with lowbrow, male-dominated identity and practice"[4]. Despite these assumptions, video game use is growing across age and demographic groups. In fact Ito and Bittanti (2009) state that "gaming represents the central form of early computer experience for kids"[5] and in today's digital world, it is video games that proliferate student's lives outside of school. As a PEW research study titled "Teens, Video Games and Civics" (2008) found, "game playing is ubiquitous among American teenagers. Fully 99% of boys and 94% of girls report playing video games"[6].

With such a widespread active interest in games, a Minecraft Club would provide Cherry Valley-Springfield with an opportunity to engage students with an activity they enjoy, in an environment they love, while building positive learning experiences and building positive relationships and rapport to impact student learning.  

Pilot Game-Based Learning (GBL) at Cherry Valley-Springfield 

Being that the majority of students play games, the reality stands that games are used minimally as an educational tool.  Therefore, a main focus of the Minecraft club would be an exploration of the feasibility of GBL within Cherry Valley-Springfield.  The club would serve as a pilot toward the use of MinecraftEDU into the classroom.  In fact, MinecraftEDU is designed to be embedded within classrooms, and to be customized and altered to meet curricular needs.

Curriculum Alignment and Learning Experiences

Because of the open, self-directed creative nature of Minecraft, it can align with many school subjects such as STEM - even Art, History, and Foreign Languages.  The club would be student-directed and teacher-guided to achieve a feasible set of learning objectives.  

        Unquestionably, the group would meet all ISTE Standards.[7]

Standard 1: Creativity and Innovation

Standard 2: Communication and Collaboration

Standard 3: Research and Information Fluency

Standard 4: Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making

Standard 5: Digital Citizenship

Standard 6: Technology Operations and Concepts

As J.V. Bolkan (2010) notes:

“Perhaps the greatest potential benefit of playing games is the positive attitudes it can foster toward information technology . . . Connecting personal uses of technology to learning encourages and reinforces the concept of lifelong learning.”[8]

Gaming within virtual worlds provides unique learning experiences that cannot be detailed here.  However, as Tom Atkinson and Atsusi Hirumi (2010) summarize:

“GBL provides many of the same conditions associated with zoning and inducing flow state.  When playing video games, players are observed to experience or report the following conditions:

A Minecraft club will ultimately allow CV-S to explore and grasp ways to reach students in a medium they are familiar and comfortable with - while promoting the creation of responsible and collaborative 21st century skills.


Additional Resources

Is minecraft the ultimate educational tool? PBS Idea Channel. http://youtu.be/RI0BN5AWOe8 

Using minecraft as an educational tool. Edutopia.

http://youtu.be/SSimHPmZ0hA 

Teaching with Minecraft.  Wiki

        http://minecraftedu.com/wiki/index.php?title=Teaching_with_MinecraftEdu 

For Mr. DeBoyace’s research on Educational Gaming, see:  

deboyace.com/gaming 


[1] For a more detailed description see: http://minecraftedu.com/wiki/index.php?title=What_is_Minecraft%3F 

[2] Winchester, H. (2011, November 21). Minecraft in insanely big numbers, 241 million logins a month, 11,000 skin downloads a second [Newsgroup post]. Retrieved from PCGamer website: http://www.pcgamer.com/2011/11/21/minecraft-in-insanely-big-numbers-241-million-logins-a-month-11000-skin-downloads-a-second/ 

[3] See, for example: Williams, D., Yee, N., and Caplan, S.E. 2008. Who plays, how much, and why? Debunking the stereotypical gamer profile.  Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13, pp. 993-1018.  Retrieved from: http://129.105.161.80/uploads/Whoplaysfinal.pdf 

[4] Ito, M. and Bittani, M. Gaming. 2009. Hanging out, messing around, and geeking out: Kids living and learning with new media. Editor Mizuko Ito. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, p. 199.

[5] Ibid, p. 196.

[6] PEW Research. 2008. Teens, video games and civics. PEW Internet and American Life Project, para. 5. Retrieved from http://pewresearch.org/pubs/953/ 

[7] See: http://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/20-14_ISTE_Standards-S_PDF.pdf 

[8] Bolkan, J.V. (2010). Playing games and the NETS. In A. Hirumi (Ed.), Playing games in school (pp. 75-88). International Society for Technology in Education, p. 81.

[9] Atkinson, T., & Hirumi, A. (2010). The game brain. In A. Hirumi (Ed.), Playing games in school (pp. 57-73). International Society for Technology in Education, p. 65.