Some years ago I became aware of a new game that was virally spreading via the digital jungle drums of our young people – that game was called Minecraft. I had noted that it was creeping through on my Twitter feed quite a lot and when I chatted with my friends’ 12 yr old son about it and what he was doing (he was managing servers and modding the game) I knew that I just had to find out more. When I first saw it I was a little bemused by its ‘blocky’ nature and I wondered why it was that young people who were so used to the most incredible life-like graphics in their modern console games would be interested in a space that looked like the video from Dire Straits – Money for Nothing video from 1986!
After an initial toe-dip into the world I became aware of the Massively Minecraft work done in Australia by Jokay, Dean Groom & Bron Stuckey. This work was incredible and I was lucky enough to host a visit from Dean when he came to the UK on vacation and was even luckier to be able to organise a Minecraft Teachmeet event at which Dean shared the amazing worlds that he and his colleagues were hosting and enabling children to learn in. It was quite simply breathtaking – one project saw learners work together to build the Districts from the Hunger Games books, the worlds were huge, complex and stunningly crafted.
Attempts to initiate a Minecraft project (via Glow Login) when in my last post at Education Scotland fell flat however I always harboured a desire to explore the potential impact on learning and teaching and so I accompanied my daughters on a Minecraft on XBox360 foray and together we learned how to mine, craft, create and survive in this deceptively complex world and as I did so I continued to think…
Not long after returning to the University of Dundee I met up with Deepak Gopinath and together we managed to have a bid for some funding accepted from CECHR to help us establish a small scale research project. Although we had two projects the main one that I looked after was called the Minecraft on the Waterfront project. You can read a bit about this via that last link but in essence we were challenging children from Dundee primary schools to reimagine, rebuild and resdesign in Minecrfat how thery think the new waterfront of their city should look like. The current (and agreed design was already built by 4J Studios. This video so inspired the children:
I am currently wrestling with and transcribing the data for this research and will return to this particular topic in the future however this post is about the reach, for now, of the project.
Reach & Impact
The Minecraft on the Waterfront project was reported via my #minecraftOTW hashtag on Twitter and as a result of this I ended up:
- Having an article published in the TESS about the project;
- being interviewed for a BBC Radio 4 documentary about the project and Minecraft in general;
- Being invited to (and attending) the Microsoft Minecraft Educators summit in Los Angeles
- see their new Minecraft for Educators site;
- Being invited to Minecon 2015;
- Helping a local secondary school and its associated primary schools discuss ways in which Minecraft could be used as part of a transition project;
- Being featured in the press, and media;
- Speaking to the BBC Scotland about Minecraft (in view of their interest in the space);
- Seeing my project featured by the Principal of Dundee University in his graduation speech at the Caird Hall.
I continue to work with my data to help find out a bit more about how games such as Minecraft are framed by both learners and teachers within formal educational settings. More to tell on that later. As for playing Minecraft, well I have decided to move away from the safe world of Creative and Peaceful to testing myself in Survival mode. If I do survive their will be more to share…
Image available at http://www.enjin.com/forums/m/10826/viewthread/3041034-frozenheroes-banner-request accessed 07/07/15