You don’t have to be an expert to use Minecraft in your classroom
By telling my story I want to encourage people to use or at least to try Minecraft in their lessons even they don’t know how it works. As long as we know our pedagogy, students are easy to lead to the right direction of curriculum. Minecraft is something students are familiar with and interested in. That’s why it’s so easy to get them involved deeper to the lesson by using Minecraft.
Someone introduced me to Minecraft a few years ago and said it’s a nice way to add gamification to teaching because students love it. At first, I was skeptical and didn’t pay that much attention to it. My thought was “blogs, what on earth do blogs offer to learning.” Minecraft kept coming up in all kind of gamification pages and discussions. I wanted to learn more about this game and I began to read articles and ask students what/how they do things in the world of Minecraft. The more I studied the more I got interested in this game. I thought, it has to have something good, I need to study this more carefully!
I studied and watched YouTube videos about the basics, how to build and move, what is redstone etc. I still don’t know all the basics, blogs, commands, tools etc. and I’m not an expert using Minecraft. Coding with the agent is something I’m not comfortable with. And yet I have used it in several themes and phenomenon with my students. And I love it. And now I know it’s much more that “just blogs”.
You can cover almost all subjects with Minecraft. The idea is that as an educator I know what I want my students to learn, study and do. The core curriculum is what I need to follow. How we study it I can decide. Because Minecraft is so versatile I know there are many things that can be created with it. I just introduce the topic to the students and we brainstorm how to implement certain things in the game. Students know all the tricks in Minecraft very well. I just simply ask, “Are my thoughts viable?” and they have always been (thus far). The fact that there are not any stupid questions makes sense. I sometimes ask simple or stupid sounding questions to the students about their creations or if they are stuck with their building. This way I make them think and rethink their solution in a different point of view and maybe help them to move on.
I love the fact that collaboration comes so naturally when using Minecraft. Students talk “the same language”. Problem solving gets to different level too. They know all the blogs, they think and talk about what’s the best way to solve the situation. The students who have difficulties in concentrating on other lessons are usually the best in the lessons where we have used Minecraft. And what gives the students the best “boost” is the fact that they can guide and teach their teacher.
So, can complete “freshmen” use Minecraft in classroom? My answer is definitely yes!
Piia Martikainen is a Biology/Geography teacher in Kokkola, Finland. She has been using Minecraft for nearly two years in her classroom.