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Glenwood High uses Minecraft to reshape ICT education

We’ve seen many ways that Microsoft has contributed to the ongoing efforts to heighten learning and improve educational experiences. One tool that’s gained some prominance is Minecraft Education Edition, which has been adopted by many schools to teach math, science, architecture, and history using some creative methods.

In today’s Microsoft Developer blog, the team shared how Mojang’s smash hit has completely transformed Information and Communications Technology learning. When Noelene Callaghan, a teacher at Glenwood in New South Wales, first interacted with Minecraft it was originally a collaboration tool. Inspired by the ease of using the game and platform for coding, Noelene began prepping her students to learn coding through Minecraft. Combining it with the SCRATCH, her students use languages that are common today such as HTML and JavaScript.

As Callaghan puts it, one of Minecraft’s primary benefits is in terms of motiving all kinds of students to participate:

As everyone knows, the general effect of Minecraft on motivation is profound. Students are a lot more engaged. They are excited to be in the classroom and jump on to the computers – and that instantly puts me in a powerful position as an ICT teacher! Absenteeism is exceptionally low now, and students are genuinely interested in what they are doing.

But Minecraft also builds confidence for three categories of students:

  1. The traditional ICT low-achiever. There are always some students – often high performers in other subjects – who are fearful and resistant when faced with coding. What Minecraft does is to gradually build confidence. Because a Minecraft game scenario is a multiplayer endeavour, it is automatically collaborative. Students want to help each other, for example by ‘spawning’ when new players are placed into the game world. Collaboration combats fear.
  2. The non-native English speaker. Many schools have students whose standard of English is poor, and for some that leads to demoralisation. I’ve noticed that language-challenged students often start to shine in Minecraft. They demonstrate a phenomenal skill set in something that doesn’t require English. They also earn kudos from other students, who suddenly want that person’s help and attention. Confidence can be transformed.
  3. The student who has low social-confidence. At Glenwood, we’ve started a Minecraft club, and it’s proving very good at bringing together the students who perhaps don’t easily form social connections. The advantage is that while many of them like the online, technical world, with the Minecraft club they are all in the same physical space. This is working wonders for real-world social skills and confidence.

Not only does the open world sandbox encourage the use of coding and more technological advancements, but many classrooms have improved from the game’s involvement. Absenteeism is low and individuals with low self-confidence find themselves willingly becoming involved socially. The benefits of using Minecraft for learning have made an almost immediate improvement on students and teachers.

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