Minecraft: Education Edition is an approachable, free resource for UNT staff and students that utilizes game-based learning to connect students: in and out of the classroom. Adapting the iconic, open-world sandbox game Minecraft, Minecraft: Education Edition is a lesson-focused version that utilizes the core functions of Minecraft to teach students of all ages. Minecraft: Education Edition offers a communal online space where groups and communities can meet up “face-to-face,” and build an entirely unique world.
The educational basis of Minecraft: Education Edition springs from Minecraft’s 6 core game design functions, as Microsoft’s Minecraft: Education Edition teaching blog explains:
- The Failure Dynamic: fail early, fail often. Teach students to take risks in a safe environment–a game.
- The Flexibility Dynamic: provide multiple paths to success. Old school video games had one way to win. Newer “sandbox” games are more open.
- The Construction Dynamic: build something that matters. Students want to create things with a purpose. Minecraft lets them create something difficult and worthwhile.
- The Situated Meaning: learn new ideas by experiencing them. Students learn vocabulary in real-time, as it pertains to playing with others in the game; or learn math as they understand construction.
- Systems Thinking: learn how all pieces can fit or be fitted. Games help players see how their actions fit into the bigger picture, not just the individual.
- Build Empathy: bring players together to learn a common goal. By communicating and working together, players build empathy through their avatars by raising awareness of local or global goals.
Minecraft is an incredible resource for teaching students, as it presents a space where students have contact with all 6 of these learning functions in a single space. Students quickly understand that they are safe to fail, while using critical systemic thought to reach their goals in creative ways. Students invest and connect with their world, building empathetic bonds while being taught new ideas in real-time.
Minecraft: Education Edition emulates all the functions of Minecraft, while being geared specifically towards game-based learning. Within their “subject kits” you can find custom, downloadable lesson plans that teach macro concepts like, “Chemistry” or “Biodiversity.” These lesson plans are composed of multiple custom-built levels focused on specific ideas, such as the “Type of Chemical Reactions” level, or the “Exploring Chemistry Safely” level within the Chemistry lesson plan.
Minecraft: Education Edition also offers a communal, online space for students to interact with one another outside of the classroom. Students are free to explore the base world without a lesson plan, choosing instead to build a completely custom space for their community. This allows students to connect with one another safely through a virtual space, a continual challenge in these times.
All UNT students have access Minecraft: Education Edition using their EUID and Password when downloading the software.