28 november 2014


The "problem" we face with every day is that all students, one way or another, play computer games. And if your lessons isn't interesting or fun enough, they rather play. So therefor I try to take advantage of games as much as possible. And it's only a problem if that's your opinion, me myself believes it's an opportunity.

As our students needs to have 10 free of choice courses besides their vocational training to get their professional degree, I usually find my chances to run different projects within this field. I'm interested to see what learning occur when you use a game in education, that's why I have a chance to run "Economics with World of Warcraft" and two days ago (Wednesday 26th of November) I started a beginner's course to programming using #MinecraftEDU #ComputerCraft and #CCEdu.

Half of this group will later learn deeper and more advanced code (Java, Python, C++ and more). They all today play Minecraft (that's provided to be on my course). So during 7 weeks I will have them playing Minecraft and hopefully they will also learn some programming skills. The goal of this course is to learn how to crawl as the feedback Shane Asselstine gave me the other week.

My earlier experience of these courses you most likely will have like 6-10 students notified and half of them showing up. I got 20 and 16 turned up, good because I was a bit nervous about it, I only have 19 working computers in the lab...

Sixteen students between 15 and 17 years plus my daughter, 6yo (daycare ain't open in the evenings), a bit of a challenge I must say. But lo and behold! No matter the age difference, they had the same questions, got stuck in the same places and yelled the same opinions about Internet service provider, who of course had a lot of trouble nationally in Finland yesterday afternoon and evening. My daugther, AquaVera, tried the intro to turtles stage by her own and showed the most stubborn student how easy you could make (and learn) code.

My masterplan this time is to first have Introduction to programming with the Land of Turtles world, created by Michael Harvey (can't give him enough credits for the map or hos patience with me). When we have finished the challenges there we will move on to a survival #MinecraftEDU #CCEdu server, I do believe Shane Asselstine when he says humans are lazy of nature. After the first days in game the students will think how to use turtles to do boring stuff for them: chop woods, find minerals, guard the house and more.

The goal of this course is to learn how to crawl (basics of programming) and practice on the key competences of lifelong learning. Nothing more than that, but I do believe that's enough. You see, after only one session (Wednesday) some of the guys started to think how to use this new skills at their own class server and it turned out they now have password protected doors... 

Something they admit not been thinking of before we started the course, and even though they copy-paste the code from a FAQ there still is a learning process going on, and it still very funny (for us both).

Because of the problems ISP had I also told my students after 2 hours they could leave and go home. Six students refused to leave and sat the whole time even though they were kicked out every 10 or 15 min. One student I also had to kick out from classroom because he didn't want to go home at all... And he was very pissed I didn't get him a chance to finish :D

Indeed, they do learn in another way. 
A way we're not used to or fully comfortable with but instead of deny it we could take advantage of it, control it (the gaming) and use it. Something to learn here, right? Well, as this awesome blogpost points out, at least we (teachers) can learn five things from video games:

One of the lessons I've learned of using the map, the Land of Turtles, is I must slow them down and force them to take time in the museum and force them to analysis an own piece of code. Both because everyone has problems to log on the first time and if they don't have it themselves, we have problems with the computers. So I usually share a document as they rarely read (see above and rule no 1) but also a code example they have to find, analysis and describe what it does. And I also block the entrance to the basement and portal.

When using Minecraft in education you will have lots of problems if you're using mediation pedagogy and instead you have to focus on motivational pedagogy, to be a fellow traveler as well as the travel guide so your students keep the focus.

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