When I present on the use of games in the classroom, I’m usually advocating for using COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) games. These are games, not designed for education that you might pick up at your local WalMart or GameStop. Games like this were designed primarily to entertain, though many have some powerful embedded learning, too. This is the realm I really enjoy exploring.
What’s really great is that some of these companies are paying attention to the education community and even reaching out to them. Though I’m sure there are more, I really want to mention two: Mojang, the creators of Minecraft, and Valve, the creators of games like Half Life and Portal.
Mojang has partnered with MinecraftEDU to allow a deeply discounted rate on licenses of Minecraft to schools. According to Joel “TheMinecraftTeachr” Levin, who helped start MinecraftEDU, the company has been incredibly supportive of their efforts to bring Minecraft to schools.
Valve recently launched an education-outreach program called TeachWithPortals. Through this program, schools can get Portal 2 and its level editor for use in the classroom. In addition, they’ve provided a space in which educators can connect with each other sharing lessons and ideas for integration.
This is an encouraging trend. As game-based learning continues to evolve, we need more pioneering companies to see and foster connections to classroom teachers. Great job, Mojang and Valve! I know students in my district are experiencing engaging learning opportunities because of your work.