Getting Down to Business with Minecraft: Education Edition

This story comes to us from Kim Bennett, an educator for Cherokee County School District who uses Minecraft: Education Edition for her students’ business development projects. Read about her journey from a Minecraft newbie to an educator who leads her students through virtual economies in this guest blog.

Are you always looking for ways to engage and guide middle or high school students while teaching business principles? Me too—on a daily and yearly basis! My mind was blown once we started incorporating Minecraft: Education Edition into our high school Introduction to Business and Technology class.

When Microsoft released Minecraft: Education Edition, I had the opportunity to participate in professional development trainings through my district and the Microsoft Education Community. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’m always willing to try anything. I had no idea what I was getting into, but when it was over, I did think Minecraft was pretty cool. When I completed the training and shared what we had learned with my students, their eyes lit up. All of them were sitting on the edge of their seats.

A computer featuring a building in Minecraft: Education EditionThis is the elusive engagement we all want for our students. Minecraft grabbed their attention—not easy thing do! I wanted to find a way to incorporate students’ interests into learning and demonstrating knowledge: the Holy Grail! I knew that there was no way I was going to miss out on incorporating Minecraft into our classroom. Work that would engage and excite my students? I’m in! So what does my curriculum say? We simulate a business environment where students work in teams to complete projects throughout the year as we proceed through units on marketing, communication, business management, entrepreneurship, accounting, and risk management. Students work collaboratively, holding different jobs within their work team to create a business of their choice. They spend time developing marketing and business plans for their unique business opportunity.

That might sound exciting to me, but not so much for middle schoolers. Here’s where Minecraft comes in. Students collaborate in a Minecraft world to actually build and create their businesses—restaurants, food trucks, factories, sports facilities, to name just a few. By incorporating NPCs, teams are able to share links to various documents, videos, and spreadsheets that they create and save in their OneDrive accounts. They create marketing materials, commercials, business plans, expense spreadsheets, and they’re able to use Minecraft to serve both as an interactive environment to explore and as a type of portfolio to showcase their project. Worlds can then be shared, providing an opportunity for others in the school to explore their businesses. I’m able to get what we need done, and the students are actually enjoying the lessons. Again, that’s the Holy Grail!

A food truck shaped like a taco called "El Camion" in Minecraft: Education Edition

One team’s business plan includes a food truck named “The Taco Truck” that serves as an eye-catching representation of their business. Not only does it serve as the business location, but it’s also driven around town for marketing purposes. Using Minecraft, they were able to create a truck that actually looks like a taco! It’s a creative way to get a wow-factor. Their goal was to create a business that is an iconic fixture in the community that people will be excited to see and visit. I, for one, would love to see a taco driving around our town. Through their Minecraft world, these students had the ability to build their truck collaboratively and design both the inside and outside. They love to invite others to explore their business in Minecraft.

Students vote on the best business, and believe it or not, middle schoolers are somewhat competitive.  It’s amazing to be able to “walk through” their proposed businesses interactively. Teams even had moving and working parts in their worlds. It’s truly amazing what the students are able to create. I’m continually blown away. And did I mention that they love coming to class and are exceeding my expectations daily? Between project-based learning, student engagement, real-world problem solving, and teamwork, Minecraft is a big win in my book!

Want to see business teaching with Minecraft: Education Edition in action? Check out this video of another educator’s work using Minecraft with students to model the economy. Learn more about Minecraft: Education Edition and get started at education.minecraft.net.