Minecraft for Higher Ed? Try it. Pros, Cons, Recommendations?
Description: Why Minecraft, the online video game? How can Minecraft improve learning for higher education? We’ll begin with a live demo in which all can participate (see “Minecraft for Free”). We’ll review “Examples, Not Rumors” of successful adaptations and USES of Minecraft for teaching/learning in higher education. Especially those submitted in advance And we’ll try to extract from these activities a few recommendations/questions/requests re Minecraft in higher education.
These affordances develop both social and cognitive abilities of students
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Nebel, S., Schneider, S., & Daniel Rey, G. (2016). Mining Learning and Crafting Scientific Experiments: A Literature Review on the Use of Minecraft in Education and Research. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 19(192), 355–366. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/jeductechsoci.19.2.355
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Last year at G4C Nick Fortugno threw some controversy into the conversation about Minecraft by suggesting Minecraft was not a game but a toy. The proposed panel extends that conversation by asking what is the Minecraft experience, can it be defined or categorised and what as game designers and exponents can we take from understanding its zeitgeist and the impact it has had on the serious gaming landscape?
In 2012/23 at both GLS and G4C many presenters made jokes about including the obligatory Minecraft slide and for very good reasons. Minecraft is arguably a game of immense impact. It has been embraced as part of learning programs focussing on seemingly disparate areas from digital citizenship, history, coding and the maker movement. It is probably the first game brought into the classroom by teachers to leverage the out of school groundswell of existing player excitement. It’s impact is multi generational and perhaps more global than any game before it. The fan base and user community/ies are strong and well supported and exemplar of the potential Jim Gee describes for Big G game. This panel proposes to leverage that Big G space in the lead up to Games for Change 2014 and to honor the voices of its players.
Minecraft has been variously described as a game, toy sandpit, learning space, creative environment, virtual world, and game-infused service. But what really are the affordances of this blocky 16 bit program and how can we even begin to define its value to learning? Enter the Minecraft Experience, a global crowdsourced program managed by Bron Stuckey of The Massively Minecraft Project. People engaging in Minecraft activities about the globe are being invited to describe Minecraft in all its contexts and adaptations. The categories for these experiences will emerge from the crowd sourced content as members contribute thoughts, media, resources and questions to build the __Minecraft Experience__ evidence base.
This panel of notable speakers has been drawn together to answer provocative questions about Minecraft’s success and define its relationship to and impact on learning. The panelists have been chosen to represent play in many contexts formal education, informal learning, self-organised learning, schools and non-school contexts. They include game designers, educators, researchers, learners and parents who have each had a personal and professional experience of this and many other games.
Panelists take a position on the Minecraft experience and use the resources provided by members of the project to inform, support and evidence their case.
How are players, educators and researchers invited to contribute?
project wiki to prod, poke, stimulate and support crowd sourced content and dialog
live youth speakers on the panel
social media and wiki activity in lead-up using selected #minecraftproject
video inclusions of educators, parents, kids/youth arguments, evidence and questions
promotion of youth media pieces from existing YouTube etc to support and stimulate various provocative dialogs
livestream of the panel to global contributors with live feedback and questions.
Who could benefit from joining this project and attending the G4C 2014 panel session?
Educators seeking to understand Minecraft’s value to learning
Programs seeking to adapt Minecraft as part of a program of impact or change.
Game designers seeking to build in its wake
Anyone wanting to consider issues of fidelity, adaptation, constructionism, popular culture, and impact in gaming.
The relationship between teens, screens and mental health is complex and multidirectional
Abby’s mom has sent her articles about research linking teen depression and suicide to screen use. A 2017 article in The Atlantic magazine — “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” — drew a link between negative trends in teens’ mental health and the rise of smartphones and social media.
The negative relationship between teens’ mental health and technology use is real — but tiny, the researchers found. “A teenager’s technology use can only predict less than 1% of variation in well-being. It’s so small that it’s surpassed by whether a teenager wears glasses to school.”
How to strike a balance? To start, try mentoring, not monitoring
Heitner’s work emphasizes a concept that’s also put forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics in its guidelines for parents: media mentoring.
Look for the good in your kids’ media interests
For Benji, Minecraft is a social space where he plays with other kids and pulls pranks. He says he wishes his parents understood more about his screen use — “why it’s entertaining and why we want to do it. And also, for YouTube, why I watch other people playing games. When you watch sports, you’re watching another person playing a game! Why is it so different when you’re watching a person play a video game?”
DataSense, a data management platform developed by Brightbytes.
DataSense is a set of professional services that work with K-12 districts to collect data from different data systems, translate them into unified formats and aggregate that information into a unified dashboard for reporting purposes.
DataSense traces its origins to Authentica Solutions, an education data management company founded in 2013.
A month later, BrightBytes acquired Authentica. The deal was hailed as a “major milestone in the industry” and appeared to be a complement to BrightBytes’ flagship offering, Clarity, a suite of data analytics tools that help educators understand the impact of technology spending and usage on student outcomes.
Of the “Big Five” technology giants, Microsoft has become the most acqui-hungry as of late in the learning and training space. In recent years it purchased several consumer brand names whose services reach into education, including LinkedIn (which owns Lynda.com, now a part of the LinkedIn Learning suite), Minecraft (which has been adapted for use in the classroom) and Github (which released an education bundle).
Last year, Microsoft also acquired a couple of smaller education tools, including Flipgrid, a video-discussion platform popular among teachers, and Chalkup, whose services have been rolled into Microsoft Teams, its competitor to Slack.
Every number released in conjunction with Fortnite is staggering, even within the context of a $137 billion industry. On the same day as its Fortnite Pro-Am tournament at E3, the video-game industry’s largest convention, the game was released for the Nintendo Switch, and within 24 hours it had been downloaded more than 2 million times. Analysts estimate that Fortnite is currently raking in more than $300 million a month, and has made its maker, Epic Games, more than $1.2 billion since its battle royale mode launched in late September.
Fortnite is virtually identical on every platform, and players can move from their PlayStation to their phone and back without missing a beat. Milligan first heard about the game back in September. “It was the next new game, like when Minecraft came out, but way more popular.”
The cadence of a Fortnite game is that nothing is happening and then, very suddenly, everything is happening. The game has three main modes: solo (every player for themselves), duos (teams of two), and squads (teams of three or four), but there are consistently around 100 players in every session.
Even when kids aren’t playing Fortnite, they’re talking about Fortnite or finding ways to profit from it.
Video games pioneered the dopamine-rush cycle. Using bright graphics and sound effects to make players feel continual accomplishment, arcade games were honed to make players feel like they needed to feed in just one more quarter over and over again — slot machines that kept people entranced without ever having to pay out. The addictive core of video-gaming never went away, even as games became more complicated: Every win, every high score, every 100 percent completion, every secret and Easter egg was a chance for a little rush of accomplishment and satisfaction.
And then mobile products learned to do the same thing. Give people goals, reward them with flashes of color, and you could entrance them into something resembling addiction. This was called, tellingly and unsurprisingly, “gamification”: Treat every app and every activity as a video game, with scores, prizes, and leaderboards. Snapchat rewarded users who talked every day with “streaks”; the exercise app Strava allowed you to compete with other joggers and earn badges; Foursquare turned the entire world into a game of king of the hill.
The process has come full circle. Fortnite is a gamified video game.