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2011-2012 Board Mini-Grant Minecraft Project - FAQ

Page history last edited by Lucas Gillispie 12 years, 2 months ago

2011-2012 Board Mini-Grant Minecraft Project
Frequently Asked Questions

 

1.  What is Minecraft?

2.  What age/grade should students be in order to use Minecraft?

3.  How might I use Minecraft with my students?

4.  Are other educators using Minecraft?

5.  What are the technical/logistical requirements for using Minecraft at my school?

6.  How technical/difficult is the game?

7.  Will I receive professional development and support to implement this?

8.  I heard there are monsters, swords, and dying in this game.  Is that a concern?

9.  How much time is required to effectively use Minecraft?

10.  What, exactly, am I getting with this grant?

11.  Can I play with my students?

 

 

1.  What is Minecraft?

 

Minecraft is an independently-developed video game created by Swedish game programmer Marcus "Notch" Persson.  It wasn't developed specifically for use in education, however, it has some powerful potential when used instructionally.  Minecraft is referred to as a "sandbox" game.  Sandbox games are typically virtual world environments that allow players an open-ended, non-linear approach to play.  These games typically have a loose/open storyline and few rules.  In fact, many don't have a specific "win" condition.  Think of Minecraft as a virtual world made entirely of LEGO-like blocks that can be moved and re-configured by players to create nearly anything imaginable.  Minecraft also supports a multiplayer, collaborative format, meaning several players can build and create in a shared virtual space.

 

Here are a few videos to introduce you to the game:

 

From the official website:

 

 

A fan-made video trailer for the game:

 

2.  What age/grade should students be in order to use Minecraft?

 

One of the beautiful things about this game is that it appeals to a wide age group.  Students of all ages (even adults) enjoy Minecraft and can easily master the basics of game play.

 

3.  How might I use Minecraft with my students?

 

This is largely up to you.  The open nature of the game really supports a wide variety of applications, instructionally.  You might have your learners recreate an event in history or a historic location, such as the Globe Theatre.  Perhaps you'll use the game to teach basic circuits and logic.  People create all sorts of things in Minecraft:  roller coasters, music, even art.  You might also choose to use a story-driven approach to the game in "Survival Mode" using the game as a foundation for creative writing and journaling.  There are many options.

 

Here's an example of a student's history/civics project:

 

4.  Are other educators using Minecraft?

 

Yes!  There's a growing number of innovative educators and schools who are exploring the potential of Minecraft in the classroom.  Joel "TheMinecraftTeacher" Levin is using the game extensively with second graders in New York.  Dr, Bron Stuckey, Jo Kay, and Dean Groom, in Australia, have begun the Massively Minecraft program with students and parents in Australia.  At the Elizabeth Morrow School in New Jersey, the Morrowcraft Project is underway.  Even here in Pender County Schools, we have been working with 5th graders at Topsail Elementary and Cape Fear Elementary.  West Pender Middle will be launching a program soon, too!

 

Here's a video of our kids sharing their work from last year:

 

5.  What are the technical/logistical requirements for using Minecraft in my school?

 

To use Minecraft with students, you'll need access to a computer lab with newer Dell computers (those with the silver sides).  Due to the way the program runs, it would not likely perform well on netbook computers, though we haven't tested it yet.  Aside from that, the district will operate two servers to which your students can connect and work collaboratively with each other or even, potentially, students from other schools and grade levels.

 

6.  How technical/difficult is the game?

 

That really depends on what you're doing.  The beauty of the game is that, overall, the controls and basic concepts are easy to master, however, depending on what you might set out to build, the challenge scales.

 

7.  Will I receive professional development and support to implement this?

 

Absolutely.  Lucas Gillispie, the district's Instructional Technology Coordinator, will provide support and professional development to help you get started.

 

8.  I heard there are monsters, swords, and dying in this game.  Is that a concern?

 

Our plans are to operate two different virtual worlds for this project.  One world will be set to "Creative Mode" and will allow students access to infinite building materials and will have monsters/dying turned off.  A second world will be available and set to "Survival Mode," offering the option for students to take a more adventurous approach to play.  You may choose either (or both) of these for your student projects depending on how you decide to use the game.  Regardless of what options you make available to students, we recommend getting parents involved and have sample permission/information letters to help.

 

9.  How much time is required to effectively use Minecraft?

 

 

Again, that depends on what you want to do.  A good analogy is to think of giving students an infinite supply of LEGOs and asking them to build something.  The more time you give them, the more elaborate and complex (and meaningful?) the experience will be.  That's one reason we highly recommend this as a project for intervention/enrichment periods, elective classes, clubs, and before- or after-school programs.

 

10.  What, exactly, am I getting with this grant?

 

If you are the recipient of a grant, you will have access to 25 Minecraft accounts.  These accounts will be owned by the school/school system and allow 25 of your students to use Minecraft either in stand-alone single player mode, or on our district Minecraft servers.  At the end of your project, you can recycle these accounts allowing new students to use them.  Once you own them, you own them.  There's no recurring subscription fee associated with the accounts.

 

11.  Can I play with my students?

 

You bet!  In fact, we encourage it.  Simply use one of the 25 accounts as your account and the other 24 for students.

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