Hurdles to Entry – Minecraft

Matt Coia has used Minecraft in and out of the classroom since 2011. He enjoys introducing other educators to the game by helping them solve problems and meet their learning goals. You can reach Matt via Twitter: @coiascience, via the Minecraft Teachers Google Group, or on the Minecraft Education Community website.

Trying something new can be challenging. This is true whether you are an adolescent or an adult. If you are entering the world of Minecraft for the first time, the task may seem daunting and possibly quite frustrating. Your students may know more about the game than you, and that’s ok. Designing effective lessons in Minecraft may involve making custom maps that will help your students reach their learning goals. This can be a Herculean task without an intimate knowledge of how Minecraft works. Minecraft has traditionally had a steep learning curve for educators that are new to the game. Having a solid starting point can make all the difference in how you structure your lessons. Teachers are already strapped for time as it is, and any experienced map maker will tell you that even the most elementary map can take many hours or days to form into the environment you want for your students. With that in mind, I have put together a few maps to help get teachers started with Minecraft: Education Edition. There are many times when you may want something pre-built for the students to interact with. You may want less environmental distractions. You may want a bit more control. While the maps I’ve included are far from comprehensive, they may at least give you a basis on which to build your lessons. Map 1 - “25 Squares” This map is built on a completely flat area with no terrain to contend with. There are 25 grid spaces measuring 20x20 each. The spawnpoint is in the center square. Each square is surrounded by Border blocks to prohibit movement between squares. You can use the Classroom App or teleport commands to move students to separate squares, if you choose. Students can then build or complete tasks without fear of interference from other players. This is pretty versatile map that can be reused again and again for different lessons.  

Map 2 - “Forest Fortress” This map was hand-made over the course of many hours. It contains the basis for a community build with a large medieval wall surrounding a central planning space. Outside the wall are many different biomes and an extensive wheat plot. This beginning area would make a great setting for students to work on setting up their own town, economy, and government.

Map 3 - “Huge Village” This map is completely natural, created by the Minecraft terrain generation algorithm. It contains 3 large villages set very closely together that could serve as a pre-made community for a whole classroom of students. It even comes with its own residents already! Having this many villages so close together is extremely rare and will surely get students familiar with the game talking about their own experiences.