What is Minecraft?
Minecraft is an indie “sandbox creation” game by the game studio Mojang. In Minecraft, the player is set in a vast, randomly-generated landscape made of various blocks. With the ability to collect and build with these blocks, the player is able explore the world and raise constructions of their own, by themselves or with friends on one of many online servers.
What is MinecraftEDU?
MinecraftEdu is a modified version of Minecraft, paired with powerful server software, which a teacher can use to bring an entire classroom of students into a single, private Minecraft world. The tools included in the MinecraftEdu software allow the teacher to create and present lessons in a highly engaging, virtual environment.
What specifically makes Minecraft special for educational purposes? Out of all the games out there, why did we choose to start with Minecraft? Here are a few of the qualities of Minecraft that make it great for teaching:
- Minecraft is what’s referred to as a “sandbox” game. Instead of defined goals and linear gameplay, Minecraft just gives the player a set of rules and a massive environment; this level of gameplay freedom is perfect for exercising the player’s creative energies.
- Another effect of Minecraft’s “sandbox” nature is the development of a student’s sense of agency. Agency is the capacity to act independently and make free choices. Games, especially pure sandbox games like Minecraft, can teach students that their choices matter, and that they control the choices they make.
- Minecraft is far more about construction than destruction. One of Minecraft’s game modes has monsters that the player must defend against, but the player’s weaponry is no more advanced than a bow and arrow. Players quickly learn that building defensive structures is a far more effective than the more offensive strategy. Besides that, MinecraftEdu’s software offers the ability to toggle the existence of these monsters on and off on-the-fly.
- Minecraft is massive. As in, “millions of times the surface area of Earth” kind of massive. This maintains the sense of exploration much longer than other, more limited games. Additionally, when running worlds where the students are allowed “free build” areas to develop their own in-game society, the size allows constructions to be freely expanded.
- Minecraft’s blocks are easier to grasp for beginning gamers than the complex worlds of other modern games. For all students, the training of 3D spatial comprehension is vital in the advancing digital world, for both virtual and physical endeavors.
What Subjects Can Minecraft Teach?
The range of subject areas in which Minecraft can be used effectively as a teaching tool is only limited by the ingenuity of the teacher and world-builder. Check out lessons in the MinecraftEdu World Library.