Thursday, 13 April 2017

Introducing Minecraft: Education Edition – what it is and why you should think about using it in your classroom

This is the first in a series of posts about using Minecraft: Education Edition in your classroom.  (The series of posts can be accessed at: http://bit.ly/2pRigwJ) In this post we introduce you to this global sensation that has been personalised for use in schools, specifically for education, and is being used effectively by educators in more than 50 countries of the 
world.
Minecraft is hitting the world by storm! You just have to mention the word ‘Minecraft’ in class and hands go up with learners making comments such as ‘I play Minecraft at home, ‘I love playing Minecraft’, or ‘Çan we play Minecraft today?’ In the past the average teacher would dismiss the notion of playing a game like Minecraft in class…that is, until Minecraft: Education Edition arrived on the scene!

What is Minecraft: Education Edition?


Have you noticed that Minecraft: Education Edition is becoming a buzzword at the moment? Here are some of the questions that go through every teacher’s mind at its mention. “What exactly IS Minecraft: Education Edition? Can it really be integrated with the curriculum? Where can I get hold of it?”

Let’s explain exactly what it is. The official Minecraft: Education Edition website, found at https://education.minecraft.net/, describes the game as an open-world game that promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving in an immersive environment where the only limit is your imagination.

Why would a teacher want to use Minecraft: Education Edition in the classroom?
Minecraft: Education Edition is a collaborative and versatile platform that educators can use across subjects to encourage 21st-century skills. Learners in the classroom can have endless enjoyment when combining this game with the curriculum. Watch this introductory video which demonstrates how Minecraft: Education Edition promotes creative exploration in an immersive environment where the only limit is your imagination!

video

In later posts we’ll show you how Minecraft: Education Edition can be combined with an educator’s current curriculum. But first let’s take note of what educators who use Minecraft: Education Edition in the classroom have noticed about its benefits.

1) Minecraft: Education Edition promotes engagement
Every educator longs to captivate the attention and engagement of his or her learners. Minecraft: Education Edition has the power to bring engagement and curriculum to the learners. Firstly, most learners are already comfortable in a digital environment so combining this with education for excellent results is a big plus. It encourages collaboration and it helps the teacher deliver the curriculum. By using Minecraft: Education Edition as a platform for learning, educators can motivate and inspire every student to achieve more, and ignite a passion for learning.

2) Minecraft: Education Edition promotes collaboration
Collaboration is a 21st century skill that helps prepare learners for their future. Teamwork is a natural part of the workplace. Minecraft: Education Edition is designed for students to play together – whether that means working in teams to solve a problem, or collaborating as an entire class complete learning activities.

3)  Minecraft: Education Edition promotes creative exploration
Think about how we learn naturally. It is through a combination of  observation, trial and  error, and
practice. In Minecraft: Education Edition there are no step-by-step instructions – learners must try, fail, and try again to achieve the result they want.  Minecraft: Education Edition is can be described as ‘an open canvas’ which allows learners to express themselves and their ideas in unique ways. The teachers guides the learning in the framework of the curriculum.

4) Minecraft: Education Edition
promotes learner-centred outcomes
Educators can use Minecraft: Education Edition to create lessons and activities that cater to all learning styles – visual, auditory and kinaesthetic/tactile. No longer will an activity be only reading and writing, or only listening and viewing. Minecraft: Education Edition can be described as a flexible maker-space that can engage kinaesthetic learners. Educators are able to map their projects and activities in Minecraft: Education Edition directly to learning styles, specific learning outcomes and curriculum standards.

What if an educator is not a gamer? Does it matter?
To close off today’s post we’d like to show you a video that introduces you to Katja Borregaard, an educator at Skt Josefs Skole in Roskilde, Denmark. She says one doesn’t have to be a gamer or an expert in Minecraft: Education Edition in order to get started. She took the plunge and got started for the sake of her learners, and she has never looked back. Follow her journey as she brings Minecraft: Education Edition into her classroom. Katja Borregaard first experienced the game in early 2016. Since that time, she has participated in the Minecraft: Education Edition beta and is currently learning with and from her students as she integrates it into her existing curriculum.


What next?
Think about entering into the world of your learners and introducing Minecraft: Education Edition into their space at school. In South Africa the best way to get Minecraft: Education Edition for your class is for your school to sign up by registering for Office 365 for Education (hyperlink: (which is free) and then buying Minecraft: Education Edition from a Microsoft Authorised Education Partners (AEP). These are current partners who can assist you:

Partner Name
Contact Person
 Email
Computers 4 Kids
Russell Pengelly
Scadco
Mitchell Struwig
ITech Solutions
Daryl Duncan
Onsite IT
Clayton Campbell
Masterskill
Roelof de Bruyn
GACS
Brian Carl Brown
Dial a Nerd
Warren Morton

Technical requirements for Minecraft: Education Edition:
Operating System: Windows 10 or macOS
Identity: Office 365 Education account for each player. This is free for schools and your Authorised Education Partner can assist you getting this set up.
Network: Internet access required for login and multiplayer

Further reading:
· Education Minecraft.net https://education.minecraft.net/: This is the official Minecraft site
The Minecraft generation: http://nyti.ms/2nPOJTP: This is an interesting article from the New York Times

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