Minecraft at the 2018 Games for Change Festival

From June 28-30, a group of Global Minecraft Mentors and members of the Minecraft: Education Edition team took part in the annual Games for Change Festival in NYC. The Festival brings together game creators, technologists, educators, researchers and learning designers to imagine what positive impact games can make in our society.

In order to share the story of how Minecraft is affecting teaching and learning in classrooms around the world with Festival attendees, we turned to Global Mentors and educators for a onstage conversation as part of the Games for Learning track of programming. During this mainstage panel at the Festival, we discussed how each Mentor’s teaching practice has shifted due to introducing Minecraft, how students learn differently and ways Minecraft impacts learning and how connecting to a global community of educators has broadened their own world views.

Here are some reflections from the panelists themselves related to their experience at Games for Change, in their words:

Beth Hobbs, Montour School District, Pennsylvania: The Games for Change conference was a great opportunity to showcase the many possibilities Minecraft: Education Edition creates for students and educators.  I really enjoyed sharing examples of how we empower our students when using Minecraft.  The possibilities of STEM lessons in Minecraft are endless, and educators can develop a greater understanding of difficult concepts at a young age with the use of Minecraft.

Chris Fuge, Fresno School District, California: As a newcomer to the Minecraft Global Mentor group, the G4C conference was an amazing eye opener to me. I have often felt so isolated being the only technology teacher at my school. It was incredible to be able to really work collaboratively on Minecraft projects with other teachers who share a passion for bringing engaging game-based lessons to their students. I was particularly honored to be a part of the Panel sharing how we are using Minecraft Education to enhance STEM learning at our schools. I look forward to continued collaboration with the Mentor Group and really developing some meaningful Minecraft lessons.

Trish Cloud, Charlotte Mecklenburg School District, North Carolina: What a week! After a whirlwind time at ISTE, I arrived in New York for the Games for Change Festival. I was immediately struck by the intimacy of the event. I enjoyed the sessions I attended all the while preparing myself for the panel discussion on Minecraft: Education Edition. The panel discussion was not as scary as I was thinking it would be. We all brought different things to the table in the ways and methods we use M:EE and that made our panel thought-provoking and authentic. Whether that was an experience with using Minecraft for teaching Physics basics to elementary children, understanding the coal mining industry of Wales, Art museums built in Minecraft, or working with middle schoolers; we are teachers who design maps and lessons that are tested and we know work, students enjoy, and that provide an immersive experience that goes beyond just learning from a book. We were able to share these experiences and what works for us, and hopefully the listeners were able leave with something they can share or implement themselves, so they can see and experience the fun learning that is Minecraft: Education Edition.

James Protheroe, Darran Park Primary School, Wales: Games for Change was an amazing opportunity to collaborate with Global Minecraft Mentors from across the globe and share the innovative ways Minecraft Education Edition is being used to engage and inspire learners. For me the highlight was taking part in the panel discussion, Beyond Blocks: How Minecraft is Helping Transform STEM Learning with esteemed educators from around the world. During the panel I was able to share how school in Wales are developing coding and stem learning through the Minecraft Cracking the Code initiative. Getting students to debug code with Code Builder gives them motivation and helps students accept mistakes as part of the learning process. It was empowering to share on a global stage and learn from so many amazing educators.

Minecraft was also part of a number of conversations and presentations by leaders in the game-based learning community. Katie Salen,  Professor in the Department of Informatics at UC Irvine, talked about Connected Camps, hands-on Minecraft summer camps and after-school labs, and how online play can help build conflict resolution skills. Connected Learning Lab director and UC Irvine Professor Mimi Ito discussed examples of how students’ passion for Minecraft and peer networks can lead to connected learning. Adam Bellow, founder of BreakoutEDU, explained how BreakoutEDU engages teachers and students in collaborative problem solving (here’s one Minecraft BreakoutEDU game on Native American history called Lost in Time). Follow the live #G4C18 conversation on Twitter here.

The opportunity to learn in a community like Games for Change is what is continuing to feed our passion for supporting educators around the world, we can’t wait for our next adventure!

 

To learn more about the Games for Change Festival, visit www.gamesforchange.org. We will share the YouTube video recording of the panel once it is posted.