NCTIES 2013 – Digging Into Game-Based Learning with Minecraft

mc_inschool

Purchasing Minecraft

Minecraft’s purchasing model revolves around accounts.  What you’re really buying when you buy a Minecraft account in a username and password.  For typical home users, a Minecraft license/account costs around $27.  Thanks to Mojang’s generous outreach to the education community, you can buy licenses for school use at a significant discount through MinecraftEDU.  They sell licenses at $18/account or $335 for a set of 25 licenses ($13.40 each).  They also accept purchase orders which will make your finance department happy.

Using Minecraft With Students

If you simply want students to play single player, simply install the client on computers and log students in to play.  If you want a multiplayer experience (much more powerful!), then you’ll need to create/purchase/rent a server.  Hosting your own server is not too difficult, though you’ll likely need to get your IT department to assist with the logistics.  You can also rent a server as a service.  There are a number of options out there for that.  Be sure to do your research.

Ready To Dig Deeper?

Visit the Minecraft in School Wiki for more resources and links!

PCS Minecraft Videos:

Sara Toothman, Art Teacher at WPMS shares her work with students using Minecraft to teach Science Concepts from NC’s Essential Standards:

Here’s a link to her resources – Sara Toothman’s Awesome Minecraft Resources

Our first year project students share their work:

Second year student projects:

PCS Minecraft Student Creations 2011-2012:

 

Books to Read:

Here are the authors/books I’ve read recently that influence me (these links take you to Amazon and no, I don’t get a kickback):
What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy - by James Gee – this is foundational, academic work, but an easy read.
Don’t Bother Me Mom — I’m Learning by Marc Prensky – this is the book I’d give to parents, administrators, and fellow educators as a starting point.
Reality is Broken:  Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World - by Jane McGonigal – explores taking the passion that gamers bring and applying it to solve real-world problems.
Got Game:  How the Gamer Generation Is Reshaping Business Forever - by John C. Beck and Mitchell Wade – in-depth discussion of how gamers will change corporate America.
Fun, Inc.:  Why Gaming Will Dominate the 21st-Century - by Tom Chatfield – explores the components that make video games compelling as models for business and education.
A Whole New Mind:  Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future by Daniel Pink – this book really hits at the heart of what needs to change in our education system.

Teaching Digital Natives:  Partnering for Real Learning - by Marc Prensky – in this book, Marc shares tips and strategies for using a partnering model for classroom instruction that capitalizes on students’ passions.

Tribes by Seth Godin – a very interesting (and short) read about how the connectedness of the ‘Net has allowed people with similar interested to form community.  I’ve seen so much of this in the gaming community.  Your students are part of these “Tribes.”
Everything Bad Is Good for You by Steven Johnson – a very interesting look at how media consumption has likely altered how we think and work.  Maybe playing video games and watching LOST isn’t so bad after all.

Sites to Visit:

MinecraftinSchool Project Wiki - home of the MinecraftinSchool Project.
SAGA Project Wiki - home of the SAGA Project
WoWinSchool Project Wiki - home of the WoWinSchool Project.
3DGameLab Community Site - possibly the most compelling learning management system.  It allows you to apply the principles of game design to any curriculum.
Research and Resources - lots of academic research and white papers here.

Sources to Explore:

Game industry statistics - http://www.theesa.com/
Publishing industry statistics - http://www.publishers.org/press/
Movie industry statistics - http://boxofficemojo.com/yearly/

Videos to Watch:

Here are videos on or related to the subject of games in the classroom that you should watch:
James Gee – Video Games, Learning, and Literacy

Jane McGonigal – Video Games Can Make A Better World

Stuart Brown – Why Play Is Valuable, No Matter Your Age

Tom Chatfield – 7 Ways Video Games Engage the Brain

No Future Left Behind

WoWinSchool – Student Perspectives

Games to Play and Build
Here are some of the games we discussed during question/answer discussions:

World of Warcraft - the world’s most popular, fantasy-based, online roleplay game.  Now nearing it’s seventh year of production, this game still boasts over 10 million subscribers.  It’s rich in challenges, story-driven adventure, and opportunities for developing leadership, teamwork, and digital citizenship.

Minecraft - an amazing, independently-developed game out of Sweden.  Imagine a virtual world made of individual building blocks (LEGOs) that multiple students can explore and create in together.  Costs about $20.  UPDATE - MinecraftEDU offers bulk licenses at a discount to educators!

Lord of the Rings Online - free-to-play (basic) – online roleplay game set in Tolkien’s fantasy world.

Dimension-U - The first “educational” game that I’ve seen that actually begins to bridge that gap between “educational” and “real” games.

Have students build and develop their own games:

Scratch andSqueak - visual programming environments – great for all ages. Gamestar Mechanic - awesome game design system that allows kids to build and share their own Flash-based games. Kodu - a simplified version of Microsoft’s XNA programming environment used to make XBox and Windows Mobile.

Funding Ideas

Kickstarter.org - a crowdsourced funding site where individuals contribute to a project they’d like to see happen.

Donorschoose.org - a crowdsourced funding site designed to connect donors to classroom teachers.

TheLudusProject.org - part of the Breneman Jaech Foundation.  It’s goal is “to support advancements in the research and application of games-based education and digital literacy.”

 

 

 

Game Reviews for Educators and Parents:

Common Sense Media’s Game Reviews

Plugged In Game Reviews

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