Minecraft, the best-selling computer game of all time, is becoming a teaching tool, writes Alexandra Ossola in The Atlantic. Former teacher Joel Levin and his colleagues founded TeacherGaming to bring Minecraft into classrooms.
Levin played an early version of Minecraft with his 5-year-old daughter in 2010, reports Ossola. “He was amazed at how much his daughter was learning from Minecraft; she solved problems on her own, developed a spatial understanding in the game, and accelerated her reading and writing skills because she wanted to be able to interact with other players.”
Minecraft is an open-ended game with a never-ending landscape and digitally rendered resources. In certain game modes, players have to gather resources to craft shelter, tools, and armor to meet basic needs and survive battles with one another. But the part that players seem to enjoy the most is the construction element, in which they build entities like functional computers or reconstruct landscapes such as the entire country of Denmark.
Levin designed Minecraft lessons for second graders at a private school in New York City, where he taught technology classes. They learned more than “hard skills,” he tells Ossola.
“It led to conversations in the classroom about how we treat these virtual spaces that we all find ourselves in, especially the young people that are coming into this complicated world of social networking,” Levin said. “Are we going to treat our class’ Minecraft world as an extension of our classroom? Do the rules that apply in the school building also apply on our Minecraft server? What happens if someone breaks those rules?”
Minecraft Teacher has advice on how to use the game in the classroom.