I'm preparing my next MinecraftEDU ComputerCraft course and have some thinking going on that I need to get out, clear the system sort of :)
When I play Minecraft with my 6yo daughter (AquaVera), the first thing I can't help think about is all learning that is going on. But, with a second thought, all that enlighten learning wouldn't take place if she were playing alone. And this is not a boy girl issue, it's when you play over generations and learn from each other.
How can I be so sure?
Well, best example is "Everyday Minecraft" with Adam Clarke and his son Django. There's no epic mission to slay the dragon and conquer the world, instead there's small epic missions for the day: create a bed (you need to find sheep), start a farm (you need to eat), create better tools, create a proper nice base camp.
"Everyday Minecraft" should been watching every once in a while of parents and kids as it's very inspiring what you really could achieve with a computer game if you are aware of it.
We have the same epic goals; yesterday we went out to try find horses so we could start breed puppies and of course, create a stable to them. Now we happened to find sheep as well, so we "had" to take care of them...
In our acquaintance
there's parents who don't know, understand or even care what their kids play. These kids have most often one primary goal, the epic mission: slay the dragon. This is pity as you could use a game to so much, for an example "The Minecraft Student - Minecraft Mod Review" a great way of learning math!
To be able to "slay the dragon" you sometimes (in games like World of Warcraft) have to collaborate with others, who you trust can do their part as professionals. You have to communicate to be successful. But in the very end, you do it for yourself, to get better gear or whatever. In games as World of Tanks you are a part of a team, where the group is more important but here we talk match and series, as ice hockey or soccer.
But as long as no one enlighten you, there's no consciously learning going on because you also feel bad when you play more than your parents want. It doesn't matter if it's about kids in my daughters age or my students (+10 years), they still need someone to enlighten the learning to be able to achieve it.
This is kind of my problem at the moment.
There's another side as well (of course): how our students work and behave. I'm sorry, but they really suck at information retrieval. When they hit the very first wall of adversity they give up. If it's not a game...
I have for a couple of weeks having this course using both MinecraftEDU and ComputerCraftEDU, with a goal to reach out to the first years students (16-18yo) and get them more interested in code by gaming. As I know they're brilliant what comes to problem solve when gaming, I hope they also understand that's an important part during class when you're doing code (or school tasks). Don't give up if it's not working on the first attempt! Besides get them interested into coding I also want them to understand you can (and must do) information retrieval when you code!
This course when using ComputerCraftEDU in classroom has been a truly success! Many students refuse to leave until the lessons end, no matter if the Internet are not working (happened!), when the server is too laggy (happened!) or even if we have problems with the tech (happened!). When I'm ready to give up and tell them it's okay to go, half the class stays with the argument "the course ends at 19:10, we have another 45 min to hope for a miracle!"
When has that ever happened before?
We have all started the day between 8:00 and 08:30, 10 hours later they still have energy to require we end as scheduled 19:10 (and then I have to literally kick them out!)
They buy the explanation to use a game to learn something, and I can see that information gives them the aha-feeling: I am really learning something useful when I play and when I have played (Confirmation. Enlighten.)
The problem I usually have is when some students who runs own servers comes and want admin, operator access and want to install their own favorite bukkit mods. They have very hard to understand (and accept) there's actually a learning environment, an EDU-version, to their favorite game.
This time I have given them the tools to make code but nothing else as I assume they're lazy enough to want have turtles doing the boring work for them. In the following courses I will have some more specific quests for them like math, thanks to Shane Asselstine (Hawaii) who opened my eyes with thoughts like these ones:
Have them calculate how much wheat they would need to grow to survive for a day. It is harder than it seems. Then how much for a week? How much for a month?