Minecraft is an incredibly flexible learning environment. The possibilities for application in the classroom are truly endless. A quick visit to the Teaching with MinecraftEdu (Links to an external site.) page should give you a few ideas about things that are possible. From language arts, to science and engineering, math, and even quantum mechanics (Links to an external site.), Minecraft is an excellent platform for engaging lessons and real-world applications.
Before you begin working with students in Minecraft, there are a few things you should keep in mind in order to prepare for the experience.
- Establish a sense of community – Any classroom environment is built on an attitude of trust. Students trust that teachers will act in their best interests to provide appropriate, challenging learning opportunities. Students also trust that teachers will be their advocates and strive for what is fair and right. Teacher trust that students will follow directions and accomplish the tasks set before them with faithfulness and integrity. Minecraft is no different. A class period spent developing the idea that we are a community of learners who respect the work and space of others will be time well spent. Students need to understand that school Minecraft is different from home Minecraft. Students who come in with a clear understanding of the community and how it works will have a much more successful experience.
- Establish guidelines for acceptable behavior and ENFORCE them – This seems like a given, but it needs to be said. When I work with students in Minecraft, we have two simple rules: Respect the work of others by leaving their items and buildings alone unless you have permission, and be positive and kind in the chat. The second rule is easy to enforce, and students who abuse the chat are muted by the teacher. For the first rule, be prepared with an alternative activity that is perhaps a little more traditional (prepared worksheet, reflection, etc.) and also be prepared to isolate the student in the game. The student management tools available to the teacher are incredibly useful when students do not follow the rules.
- Get used to more noise – In my experience, students become increasingly excited when working on a Minecraft project. The noise level continues to rise in the classroom unless you intervene. Don’t expect that students will work quietly.
- Walk around, but also be present in the game – Your presence – both physically and virtually – is a powerful thing in a multiplayer setting. If you have students working in the same physical location, spend some time walking around and looking at what they are doing as well as monitoring what is happening in-game. The most effective way to manage a class in Minecraft is to keep proximity in mind.
Jason Schmidt created a website (Links to an external site.) last year to try and document some of the experiences he had with Minecraft in the classroom and in his after school club. Feel free to use or adapt any of the resources there, particularly the student contract (Links to an external site.).
Before moving on to the next page in the module, consider the components of good classroom management and the importance of guidelines and community as they relate to a Minecraft classroom. Record your thoughts in a way that you can retrieve them later.
Page used under CC licence from “Getting started with MinecraftEDU”