@iLearningUK: Learning Technologist of the year 2015

So today I woke up as LearningTechnologist of the Year 2015. Wow!

I have a lot of people who have supported me along my journey to getting this award that I want to thank. And I wanted to thank them properly.

Firstly, I want to thank my loving wife, Allie, and our daughter who have been by my side, watching me learn and play Minecraft, often until late into the night and who have patiently listened to my ramblings about command blocks, creepers and plugins for many months now. I have played games, chatted on Skype and read books for many many hours to get where I am with Minecraft. I have been to conferences and events where I have met with all sorts of Minecrafters building up my networks. None of which I could have done without your help and support. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Minecraft is my virtual world, YOU are my real world. I love you.

Secondly, my thanks go out to the Minecraft Community; we are a community of practice made up of gamers, educators, developers, parents, children and so much more. In particular, the Google group “MineCraft Teachers”, a collective of practising teachers who use Minecraft in the classroom. You solved many problems for me in the early days and tirelessly answered my questions. Also in the community are individuals like Aaron Harter, previously of Darlington College who tested my maps with me, build worlds and fixed permissions.

Next are the Minecraft educators. Of course, I have to thank Joel Levin and Santeri Kolvisto of Teacher Gaming. You guys are outstanding! They made MinecraftEDU, the educational version of Minecraft that allows teachers the world over to deploy and use Minecraft in the classroom. MinecraftEDU is a wonderful tool and empowers teachers to manage Minecraft easily and constructively and a whole community has grown around them and their product. I look forward to continuing to work together developing MinecraftEDU and related worlds for the world library.

Also in this category are individuals who stand out. People like Stephen Reid of Immersive Minds. Whilst an individual educator in his won right, Stephen created a collective, the Immersive Community, which brings educators, content creators, builders, artists, historians and gamers together whose purpose is using game based learning for education. They are a flexible and hard working team and I am proud to be counted as one of them.

Of course I thank my own University, the University of Hull. In particular Chris Turnock, Head of TEL, who allowed me the autonomy to explore GBL and my research in to Minecraft as a tool for Higher Education. Thank you for believing in what I am trying to do and how I am trying to introduce new pedagogies to the University of Hull as well as developing links in the community as an aspirational tool.

Thanks also goes out to Dr Mark Lorch in Chemistry who is just as enthusiastic as I am about Minecraft and provided a platform for MolCraft, a map exploring protein molecules from the National Protein database. Other staff at the university who are also part of the Minecraft vision include Helen Fenwick for wanting to explore Wharrem Percy in Minecraft, and Stuart Mottram who is bringing the work of Andrew Marvell to the community through rebuilding renaissance Hull in Minecraft.

Thank you also to the Ferens Education Trust who gave me the initial funding so I could create HullCraft and develop it into the community engagement project and teaching resource it is fast becoming. We are 1 year in to the funding and HullCraft has a good future ahead of it. I plan to take it in new directions in the coming years.

I have also to thank the Hull History Centre who have worked in an initial partnership with me on HullCraft, a map that brings the history of Hull to life. It started out as project to engage young people with the work of Francis Johnson and is now going on to become so much more. Thank you Simon Wilson for seeing my HullCraft vision and for contributing archive material, resources and events at which we could bring HullCraft to a wide audience. A thank you also has to go out to Simon’s team at the History Centre; Hannah Rice, thank you for archival work on digitising Francis Johnson’s work, building some of the early work in HullCraft and co-presenting at events with me.

Not forgetting the YouTubers. You guys have promoted Minecraft to the widest possible audiences and have freakishly huge numbers of subscribers and views of your work. You bring a Minecraft into every home in the country and have become household names. I have had the pleasure of meeting Tomohawk1989, AmyLee33, NettyPlays, WizardKeen, Phantaboulous, Sparks and so many more. Keep up the good work bringing Minecraft to the masses.

Lastly, thank you to Notch, aka Markus Persson, for making Minecraft; to Mojang for developing Minecraft and taking it to the world; and to Microsoft who had the vision to purchase Mojang and push Minecraft in to ways we never even thought of. MineCon 2015 was AMAZING this year thanks to Microsoft and I want to thank Daniel Bingyou in particular for giving the educators a voice at MineCon.

Quite a year with an amazing outcome. I look forward to where this award might take me, how I can continue to work with such great people and to meeting new people with a passion for game based learning.

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