June 23, 2020 | Distance Learning, Graduation, Minecraft: Education Edition, remote learning, Virtual Events
As the 2019-2020 school year wraps up for much of our community, we have seen educators and learners use Minecraft to celebrate their academic achievements and connect with one another in creative ways. This time of year often brings families, teachers and students together around graduations and other events, but due to school closures related to COVID-19, the Class of 2020 has been presented with unprecedented challenges…and opportunities!
Students at more than 20 schools and universities around the world have rebuilt their campuses in Minecraft. Explore builds from students at Stanford University, Singapore University of Technology and Design, MIT, University of Western Australia, UCLA, University of East Anglia, University of Pennsylvania, Queen’s University, University of Georgia, and more! Two seniors at Boston University seniors created Quaranteen University, a Minecraft server to host graduation ceremonies for students from hundreds of other universities.
These projects demonstrate the power of student-led learning and self-expression: the student builders decided what to include in their campus replicas, which often meant places uniquely meaningful to them. In a Venturebeat article, Pearse Anderson pointed out some fun examples: “In the Oberlin College server I created, I returned one day to find an impromptu food cooperative…This Minecraft version mostly consisted of a chest filled with inedible seeds and raw chicken. On the University of Minnesota server, two students played spikeball on the campus green, tossing a sunflower to each other. In the University of Texas server, students held an in-game birthday party at the top of the famous UT Tower where they set off fireworks and ate cake.”
We spoke with several of the University of California students behind Blockeley, the epic student-run project that included a scale replica of the Berkeley campus, virtual college graduation and music festival, all in Minecraft. The in-game graduation ceremony at Blockeley University’s Memorial Stadium featured commencement speakers including Chancellor Carol Christ, Vice Chancellor Marc Fisher, Mojang Studios’ Chief Storyteller Lydia Winters. What started as a side project during finals week ended up as a live-streamed in-game event garnering more than 15,000 concurrent viewers on Twitch and nearly half a million views. Check out the trailer here.
The students worked together around the clock in the days leading up to the events, building an open campus complete with bubble tea, pizza shops, and the iconic Sather Gate. “None of us have ever met in real life,” explained Nick Pickett, Class of 2020 and Blockeley commencement coordinator. Talk about a lesson in distance learning and collaboration!
Builders from different years across Berkeley volunteered for the build, and although the team of project leads helped manage workflows, students mostly worked together in-game and over web chat, contributing ideas and bringing them to life. “We filled gaps for each other,” said rising senior Muxing Zhao, who led tech and visuals for the project. “I was surprised by how much initiative people took.”
Elliot Choi, Class of 2020 and the project’s executive director, told us, “Minecraft provides a social platform. It allows us to understand how to communicate, cooperate, build, and navigate a virtual platform. I think it’s important to emphasize the creative and social aspects of Minecraft. Exercising your creative freedom, failing, and experimenting are important for everyone, not just kids.”
Read about the ceremony here and see more stunning images here.
“A flat, live-streamed graduation is worthwhile, the content can be similar, but the simulation of Minecraft embodiment is a step further into the context these students are now missing.” -Michael Humphrey, Forbes
In addition to rebuilding their school campuses in Minecraft, students and educators have also hosted proms, graduation ceremonies, and even teacher meet-ups in-game. Here’s a selection of remarkable stories:
Inspired by all of this ingenuity, and designed a custom graduation world for Minecraft: Education Edition. For teachers, students, and families alike, this world is a fun way to experience a truly Minecraftian graduation ceremony—complete with mobs, creepers, and trapdoors. You can download the Minecraft world template directly and click to open in Minecraft: Education Edition.
Within the game, click ‘Create New’ and ‘Templates,’ then find the ‘Graduation Celebration’ template. Instructions are provided within the game to walk you through the experience. You can host up to 30 players in this world. Check out the Minecraft: Education Edition Multiplayer guide to learn more about how to host a Minecraft multiplayer session.
Microsoft Education has also put together a virtual graduation toolkit for online ceremonies, featuring diploma templates, Teams backgrounds, and more. Explore other ways to host a virtual event in Minecraft here.
We congratulate all the 2020 graduates and applaud your brilliant problem-solving skills and creativity in an unprecedented graduation year!
Find out more about distance learning with Minecraft and explore summer learning opportunities with these family-friendly build challenges and a parents’ guide to Minecraft.
If you have other versions of Minecraft at home, check out the Education Collection in the Bedrock in-game store, which offers more than ten free maps to play with friends, family, or on your own.
“We’re social creatures by nature…We have this virtual world where our students can come together, hang out, talk to each other, build and design and create things together, and just have fun until they can get back together in the real world.” Lucas Gillispie, director of learning and media for Surry County Schools, via WXII-TV
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