Mountains to Climb and Gems to Mine – My Minecraft MOOC Journey

Posted: November 9, 2014 in EC&I 831 Social Media & Open Education, ECI831 Final Digital Project, Ed Tech
Tags: , , ,

In an effort to learn more about game-based learning to engage primary students I am presently pursuing a second gaming MOOC, ‘Getting Started with MinecraftEdu‘ from Canvas Network. Though I think I might enjoy playing Minecraft, I can’t see developing any sense of commitment or addiction for it. I confess…I am no gamer! I chose this MOOC for the potential to effect my teaching practice and so far it has been filled with lots of ups and downs on the path to learning.

minecraft guysPhoto Credit: Dunechaser via Compfight cc

 

Though the MOOC was advertised as a free course it requires the purchase of some software in order to participate fully. Had I read the fine print I would have noticed that earlier but as I hadn’t, I was stuck and deadlines were looming! The first mountain to climb.

alarm clockPhoto Credit: Alan Cleaver via Compfight cc

I decided to go ahead with the MOOC and do as much as I could while I was figuring out my software woes.  I took a stab at the commercial demo version of Minecraft which offered little to no explanation of what to do, why nor how to move so, for a newbie, it was not all that helpful. Thank goodness I had the help of a friend’s son who showed me around the software a little last spring. Honestly, if the demo is supposed to entice parents to buy it for their kids I think the marketing team needs to reevaluate.

With higher hopes for the MOOC, I got started. The beginning module provided some thought-provoking resources about the role and use of gaming in the classroom. My previous posts, ‘Turns out Gaming  is Good for You’ and ‘Digital Native or Immigrant?’, explore some of the viewpoints and research presented in those resources. Jane McGonigal’s TedTalk below was one of several gems I found.

 

I may just might spend the $41 on software to buy in…

After looking at gaming in general, the MOOC moved on to using Minecraft, specifically MinecraftEdu, in the classroom. Many of my young elementary students LOVE Minecraft and it would be awesome to leverage that motivation for learning curricular outcomes.

 

Ok, I’m in! Unfortunately, after deciding I’d go ahead and purchase the software I discovered that it is only available to educational institutions and they must buy client licenses in bulk along with the server version. Sigh, another mountain to climb. I checked in with our division tech consultants just in case we had access to the software but unfortunately ran into another roadblock. Now what? Keep climbing!

Not long after, I was excited to hear that our facilitator, Jason Schmidt, a techie in a Nebraska school division, got approval to allow us access to his MinecraftEdu server. This would allow the MOOC participants to try the tutorial world and some other minecraft adventures for the purpose of the course. Score! Things with my MOOC seemed to be on a smoother path!

But then, another mountain loomed before me.

mountainsPhoto Credit: Mr. Physics via Compfight cc

Despite the free access to the download my computer wouldn’t connect the dots to let me in. ARGH!!! I quickly posted to our instructor in the facilitator forum but given there are nearly 900 participants, his ability to reply in a timely manner is not very realistic. A fellow MOOC participant stepped in to help as did my school tech consultant but still no dice. The problem might be related to java blocking the software to protect the student data on my school laptop so I tried on my home computer. I figured I’d have better luck with Firefox than Explorer and had to update my adobe flash and in the process of downloading the browser (and who knows what else) ran into security troubles. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing especially when it comes to me and technology! Not sure what I did or what malware I downloaded but now my home computer is NOT happy. Sigh, keep climbing…

Despite the technology glitches, I’m determined to get as much as I can from this MOOC experience and my persistence was finally rewarded with the mother load of gems!

treasure chestPhoto Credit: Ro9.flickr via Compfight cc

In module 3 the MOOC goes in to how exactly to use Minecraft in the classroom. The Teaching with Minecraft section is a rich, resource page for all things Minecraft in education. You name it; it’s there…the motherload!

Need help getting started? Click here. Want to check out other worlds created by educators?  Click there. Examples by subject, Teacher cheat sheets, worksheets (everything from basic controls to farming guides and smelting guides), even how Minecraft can line up with curriculum standards. If you still need help there’s Minechat, a Google community for teachers, and a video for what it looks like in schools.

The resource rich page wraps up with over 20 links to articles, videos, research, websites, books and podcasts that explore game-based learning and advocate for its inclusion in mainstream education.

A few more that I pulled out…

Massively Misunderstood Minecraft – blog on purpose of minecraft in the classroom

Minecraft in education Scoop-it – even more resources

 Unorthodox uses of games in education

Podcast – games in learning

I’m not sure I’ll reach the top of the mountain that is my technology woes with this MOOC but even if I can’t complete all of it I have already mined lots of gems to polish and keep. If I can’t get my download to run I may just break down and buy the commercial version to play around with…I’m sure my sons can teach me how to use it! If not, there’s always the Minecraft Wiki and a zillion Minecraft YouTube tutorials to check out.

Are you using Minecraft or other digital game-based learning in your classroom? Please share your experiences with me!

And where to go from here? Keep climbing and keep mining!

 

 

Advertisements
Comments
  1. MBowes says:

    Wow… Super impressed by your willingness to jump in and learn about something new to you to further engage your primary learners, your ability to problem solve AND your willingness to stick with it despite the stumbling blocks! I really enjoyed reading your blog and have a dabbled a bit working with teachers to use minecraft in a learning context. And, I agree – kids were amazingly engaged when they could work together to create meaning for themselves. A great read!

    • keltiedawn87 says:

      Way to be persistent! My students have explained Minecraft to me numerous times and it seems to be very intense! If using it in a school setting, where/how/when would you incorporate it?

      • mybrainstorm says:

        Thanks! There are two different modes to play: survival (using resources to build shelter and get food/water) and create (where you can focus on building). If you’re in the edu version you can turn off the monsters or other features that you don’t want to incorporate. I would like to use it in social studies to learn about developing communities, using resources from the land, needs/wants and potentially leadership/decision making.
        This page is resource rich with curriculum outcomes you could hit:
        http://services.minecraftedu.com/wiki/Teaching_with_MinecraftEdu

        Thanks for reading!

    • mybrainstorm says:

      Thanks Monique! Not there yet but I’m working on it. Thanks for reading and for always being such a great cheerleader:)

  2. Despite the many mountains you have had to climb (or maybe because of them) you’re learning a lot about the MOOC world…lots of participants=not that much support, hidden costs, etc. Keep reflecting on the learning process in the MOOC – what can you take from this experience into your own classroom?

  3. […] ways to engage my primary learners and this looked like it would be a hit. Unfortunately, I hit a lot of snags with the MinecraftEdu download provided in the course and so I was unable to complete the module as […]

  4. […] I’ve learned a lot about them too. There are benefits and pitfalls to the MOOC experience and I’ve experienced them both. In this article posted by my colleague Brittany Bandur, Tony Bates  outlines some of the […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s