New research shows how Minecraft impacted learning in Irish primary schools
18 May 2023
18 May 2023
A recent study (Slattery, E., O'Brien, M., & Walsh, K. (2023). Teachers' experience of using Minecraft Education in primary school: An Irish perspective. Irish Educational Studies.) conducted in Ireland aimed to explore teachers' experiences of using Minecraft Education in the classroom to support student learning. The study focused on educators who participated in Ireland’s Future Is MINE, a national program broadcast by RTÉ in which teams of students designed more sustainable versions of their communities in Minecraft Education, with finalists competing in a live esports challenge. Educators across Ireland participated in the Future is MINE challenge with their classrooms, many of them teaching with Minecraft for the first time.
The study identified six major themes, including the platform's ability to encourage student collaboration, support creativity, and enable inclusive learning environments. The study also highlights some external technological barriers to using Minecraft Education in a classroom setting. Overall, this paper suggests that Minecraft Education is an inclusive learning tool that supports both curriculum content and future-ready skill building in primary schools.
The chart below shows a summary of the research methodology and findings. (Download PDF for the full paper.)
The study involved semi-structured interviews with 11 primary school teachers, eight female teachers and three male teachers. Participants were invited to register their interest in the research when they signed up for their Minecraft Education licenses, and advertisements were circulated via social media and stakeholder groups. All participants were assigned pseudonyms to maintain confidentiality. The teachers taught classes ranging from 3rd to 6th grade, and the majority taught in mixed-gender schools. Out of the 11 teachers, seven reported no or slight proficiency in using Minecraft Education, while one teacher reported high proficiency.
The study identified distinct overarching themes related to teachers' experiences of using Minecraft Education in the classroom: 'encourages student collaboration', 'supports creativity', 'students as active participants in their learning', 'inclusive educational tool', 'supports curricular content', and 'barriers to use'. These themes highlight the potential benefits and challenges of using Minecraft Education as an educational tool in primary schools.
The first theme, 'encourages student collaboration', emphasized the platform's ability to promote collaboration among students, with teachers noting that Minecraft Education encourages peer-to-peer learning and problem-solving.
The second theme, 'supports creativity', highlighted how Minecraft Education supports students' creativity and imagination. Teachers reported that the platform allows students to express themselves and create unique learning experiences.
The third theme, 'students as active participants in their learning', emphasized the platform's ability to engage students and make them active participants in their own learning. Teachers reported that Minecraft Education promotes student-led learning and allows students to take ownership of their learning experience.
The fourth theme, 'inclusive educational tool', emphasized the platform's potential to create inclusive and equitable learning environments. Teachers reported that Minecraft Education allows for differentiation and scaffolding, making it accessible to students of all levels and abilities.
The fifth theme, 'supports curricular content', highlighted how Minecraft Education supports the teaching of curricular content. Teachers reported that the platform can be used to teach a wide range of subjects, from STEM to language arts.
The themes identified in the study provide further insight into potential benefits and challenges of using Minecraft in the classroom and can inform future efforts to promote effective use of Minecraft Education as an educational tool.
Curious to see how Minecraft Education is used by educators across Ireland?