Popular with kids and adults of all ages, Minecraft has proven not only to be one of the most popular games in the world, but also that it is more than just a game to spend your free time on. The myriad of ways Minecraft can be used as a form of education is being demonstrated in schools around the world. It can be used to teach almost any subject and is not just restricted to improving a student’s IT skills.
From reading and writing to teamwork and problem solving, Minecraft can be used to teach both fundamental skills and solve complex problems. Here we discuss the many ways Minecraft is successfully being used in classrooms worldwide and give teachers some ideas of how they can incorporate the game into their lessons.
Which Subjects can it help teach?
Minecraft is a great tool for letting students essentially create their own world. It allows them to tell stories with characters, plotlines, locations, motivations and character development which they have created from scratch. This allows them the freedom to create something of their own, or work with others to create a brand-new story. Or, if the student has a favourite book, get them to recreate key scenes from it.
When setting challenges for students, teachers can create written instructions and guides for their students. This act will help students improve their reading and comprehension skills if they want to progress through the task and solve the problem. Alternatively, rather than giving students guides to follow, get them to write their own guides. These guides can be for creating buildings, mining for resources or fighting monsters.
Minecraft can be complex, so students must read all information thoroughly if they want to succeed. In order to fully understand the game and do well at it. Having a logical mindset is something they cannot really progress without.
Building a civilisation from scratch can allow you to illustrate the importance and differences of renewable and non-renewable resources. Students will quickly learn how some resources are scarcer than others and not evenly distributed.
Getting students to build famous landmarks will also help with their geography whilst tying it nicely to history as well.
History can sometimes be seen as a dry subject. One that can sometimes to be difficult to get young people enthusiastic about. But Minecraft can help bring history to life and teach topics like never before. Having students recreate buildings and landmarks of historical significance is one approach you can take. You can either import certain landmarks that have already been created by other users (such as the Roman Colosseum), or have students build them from scratch so they can create historical experiences in an engaging way.
Maths is a subject you love or hate and some struggle to get their heads around some of the more complex areas of the subject. Minecraft allows you to tackle these topics in a completely innovative way. Ratios, for example, can easily be put into practice in Minecraft, through the creation of buildings, people, and landscapes that are in proportion to one another. Accurate measuring is key when creating a functional and realistic world.
Algebra can also be applied through Minecraft. You can use basic algebra questions for students to solve.
Whatever the subject, Minecraft allows students to cooperate group projects. Not only does this encourage a healthy amount of competitiveness, it also improves communicate between team members significantly.
One skill Minecraft can really enhance is problem solving. Whether the problem is set by the teacher or the students create different challenges for each other. Not only does it allow students to think outside the box to solve, sometimes complex problems, working collaboratively means they have a common goal and that can lead to some great results. From observing how the students tackle the project, the teacher can get a good understanding of how they solve problems and how good their communications skills are.
Going beyond traditional subjects
In some cases, Minecraft has even been used to help schools in different ways. Some schools have held projects where students create a replica of their school on Minecraft to propose changes and upgrades to the school’s design and facilities.
Some rules for Minecraft in the Classroom
- Once they have completed their work, they should have the chance to present their work, allowing them to improve their public speaking and presenting skills
- When creating a lesson based on Minecraft, ensure you have specific objectives in mind.
- Always discuss internet safety with the class before you start
- Always ask the students what the story is behind what they are creating
- Get students to do research before starting their project
- It will take time to get a lesson plan that you find really works. It will take some students longer to get to grips with it than others, so you need to plan for this initially
- Get them to work in groups. If some are not as familiar with the game, it will allow them to be helped by other members of the team
Make sure students know that the goal of Minecraft is not to win. The point is to create and learn
- Get involved as well!
What are the benefits?
- Minecraft allows students to learn in a visual way
- They can recreate existing events or buildings or create something completely new. The game is entirely flexible
- Minecraft is not limited to being used for one subject only. As discussed above, there are a range of subjects you can use Minecraft for and can combine different subjects simultaneously
- It gives students the freedom to create things on their own. There are no rules which is fun for the student whilst still allowing them to learn
- Because the game can be played collaboratively, it is great for teamwork and team learning
It’s easy for some people to be negative towards the idea of Minecraft in the classroom. This is a game kids are playing in their bedrooms after school, how can this be helping them learn? But the evidence is monumental and shows some concrete results. Playing their favourite game and making the learning fun can in fact be argued to be the best way to learn, as they are using something, they are passionate about. Minecraft Edu, the education version of the game, is now widely used as a learning resource, with some schools even making it a regular and sometimes compulsory part of their curriculum.
Where some educational games allow you to “Choose your own adventure”, your choices are actually rather limited. Minecraft, on the other hand, is limitless. You are only constrained by your imagination and that shows that Minecraft is truly more than just a video game. It’s immersive, engaging and allows students to be as creative as possible whilst they learn.