Is there learning in Minecraft? Reading and writing kind of learning?

It’s great to see ‘Minecraft as a learning tool as a topic with such a sustained focus, and these are a couple of questions I’m regularly asked.

The post title is Bowie influenced rather than pure clickbait  – Life on Mars and the Yorkshire Mars Mission learning are current influences.  When releasing Hunky Dory however, way back in 1971, he declared his intention ‘to create an alternative world’.

Fast forward a few decades and we’ve got generations of Minecraft creators building their own alternative worlds. Virtually, independently, collaboratively.  Educationally?

Got to say that through discussion with teachers we’ve uncovered opportunities and projects through the ‘why and how‘ to use Minecraft to impact on learning plans, and added to the plethora and strength of educational project examples.

I’ve used Minecraft, and seen it’s impact, with very different approaches and in diverse learning environments.  This week I’ve attended both the Leeds and Huddersfield Raspberry Jam events where community and collaborative learning often lead to amazing learning outcomes with progression of programming.

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Python Programming in Minecraft at a Raspberry Jam

Teachers, students, developers, academics and enthusiasts joining together to share knowledge and skills through Raspberry Pi, using Minecraft Pi.  But what about learning?

The Jam movement supports an approach for everyone to develop their own learning with an individualised focus, and teachers can take and adapt some of those learning activities to take back to their schools.

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Extending writing opportunities?

For some though, a regular question batted back from discussions is ‘what can be learnt’, and specifically to support literacy rather than a cross curricular creativity or computing piece. And that’s where this post leads to:

  1. Can gaming, in this case Minecraft, be used to improve writing ability and develop students’ extended writing skills?  
  2. Can it also encourage students to read for pleasure?

It’s currently a plan to explore with students in KS3 and first discussions around Minecraft as a stimulus to encourage reading are fascinating.

Reading choices (mediums not genre) of 11-14 year olds can differ from other age groups, so could Minecraft encourage reading more books for pleasure?

Taking a non-fiction book and planning a Minecraft build, thereafter using extended writing activities within the worlds to create peer led activities and adventures. That’ll be the starting point, after which personal choices will determine chosen books.

Minecraft-themed books, fiction or non-fiction, won’t be part of that plan.  A quick search on Amazon shows the range of books available, but this project looks at using a chosen novel as a stimulus to create a Minecraft world and facilitate writing activities.

 

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Which leads to the final consideration of the post:

Can game-making encourage reading for pleasure or should that be vice versa? 

Interesting times in a changing world when Ernest Cline’s ‘Ready Player One‘ is required reading at Oculus VR.  Immersed yourself in games using Oculus Rift?

Work for them and you’re given a copy of this book on day one.  Interesting times : )

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