I have recently commenced a research project that aims to explore how the game Minecraft can be used to enhance and enrich learning in the primary school. I was inspired by a post by Dean Groom that talked about using consoles to access the game in classrooms and to mitigate against local authority firewalls. Having had a long history of doing this very thing in educational settings I thought that it was time to explore the use of Minecraft, via Xbox and PS3, in the primary school setting. I am working with 25 P.6/7 classes in 18 schools in Dundee. There was an amazing response from the schools in Dundee when the call for participation went out and I am only sorry that I didn't have enough consoles to go around every school that wanted to join the project. The games consoles came via the old Consolarium cupboard that sits with Education Scotland (thank you to them for agreeing to loan me the resources) as well as from an incubator research fund that I received from CECHR at the University of Dundee. An introductory evening for teachers was held in September where I explained the rationale behind the project and where my daughter acted as my Minecraft expert to demo how you played the game. She even had the pleasure of teaching her own teacher (who was there on the night) how to use the game and to help him and the other teachers begin to understand just why Minecraft could be a very valuable educational resource. Anyway, here is a blogpost, aimed at the learners, from my Glow account that gives more detail about the project:
Dundee City Council has partnered with the School of Education, Social Work and Community Education and the Department of Town Planning at the University of Dundee to explore and research the potential that the game Minecraft might bring to the life of learning in our P6/P7 classrooms. We have a number of Xboxes and PS3s with Minecraft installed and we will be asking participating schools - including yours - to let their pupils use these to reimagine, design and build in Minecraft just what they think Dundee waterfront might look like. (with the city texture pack as an extra to help you build your vision.) The people from 4J Studios in Dundee (where Minecraft for Xbox and Playstation is made) have already built it based on the exisiting plans. Have a look:
What we want you to do in your classes and groups in your schools is to have a real think about what you think the new Waterfront in Dundee should look like. We don't want you to copy the exisiting design - we want your take on what they should be building down there at the front of the city. In doing so we want you to consider a number of factors including:
- the aesthetic (how it looks) of your design
- how will the design make it an enjoyable city space to be in?
- how can tourism can be attracted and supported?
- what about local amenity enhancement for people frm Dundee and the surrounding area?
- how might the new development may offer new employment opportunities?
Over the course of the project people from the University of Dundee will visit the participating schools in order to get a picture of what is happening as you reimagine, design and build your vision of the waterfront.
The project will begin in October 2014 and will finish late March 2015. Your school will be invited to a showcase event at the University of Dundee at the end of the project to share your designs and to talk about the experience of participating in this initiative.
Show us what you can do...
I aim to share some perspectives and experiences as the project gathers momentum and as we begin to explore how teachers manage a resource such as this (with HDMI or not) in the class setting, how the children respond to the task, how they work together when building, if a purposeful context encourages intrinsic motivation to particpate in collaborative learning in Glow and what their attitude to learning within this culturally relevant context may be (not an exhaustive list!)