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Minecraft at school: how children learn with the help of a popular game

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William_Johnson avatar William_Johnson
Level 8 : Apprentice Miner
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Minecraft is one of the most successful computer games in history, second only to Tetris. As of 2017, its total sales worldwide exceeded 122 million copies, and the number of unique players - 55 million. To combat children's addiction to the game or at least return it to a useful path, Microsoft has created an educational version of the game - MinecraftEdu.

We talked to Larysa Andreichenko, co-owner of Britannica School, where Minecraft has been used in lessons for over a year, about how and why the game is used in Ukrainian schools.

International experience
The game was created in 2011. The player travels a three-dimensional world consisting of cubic blocks. He can freely rebuild it, creating complex structures from blocks. This makes Minecraft look like a LEGO constructor.

Minecraft does not set any clear goals for the player, but offers him many opportunities and activities. For example, exploring the world, creating a variety of structures and objects.

The educational version - MinecraftEdu - is sold only to schools, individuals can not buy it. The main feature is that the teacher can create a virtual world using their own methods of teaching the lesson. In this game there are no fairy-tale characters and the ability to kill.

Российский вуз провёл лекцию по программированию в Minecraft и стримил её в  Twitch

In Swedish schools, Minecraft has been a mandatory part of the program since 2013. In Australia, the game is used in science lessons, in the United States - to study history. And in Northern Ireland, the game platform has been installed not only by all high schools, but also by libraries.

In September of this year, the Ukrainian localization of the game appeared. Now it has been introduced into their curricula by 92 schools in the country. Until January 31, Microsoft is offering schools running Windows 10 a one-year free version of MinecraftEdu. At Britannica School, a test version of this game has been used in education for a year.

How it works
A pilot class that tested MinecraftEdu appeared at Britannica School last year. Seeing the first results, school leaders decided that all teachers should be taught the game. That they then integrated Minecraft into any lessons where the game is appropriate. Use the technique only in junior classes, older students the game is not so interesting.

At the beginning of the lesson, children consolidate the material studied, and then complete tasks in Minecraft. For example, they look for a chest, and to open it, they solve examples and problems. If the decision is correct, the box opens, and in it - a scroll with a new task. Each teacher decides how many Minecraft lessons there will be in the school year.

Children work in groups. This is how they learn to work in a team: there are disputes, discussions. Students choose a team leader who sees the work of all its members and can design.
Children communicate in a game chat, which can be in Ukrainian or English. The teacher corrects mistakes, corrects. It teaches children to communicate in messengers (Viber, Facebook, etc.) and develops creative thinking.

Lesson
We attended a Ukrainian language lesson using Minecraft. The lesson begins with the teacher talking about the topic of the lesson and making a survey on the material already covered: what is a noun, its gender, number and cases.

First, the children answer the questions orally, and then repeat the material through play. Everyone has a netbook on the desk, on which he plays in the world created by the teacher.

Students control a character with different tasks. For example, to open a mailbox, you must select which of the suggested words is not a noun.

Из-за пандемии российский вуз провёл лекцию по программированию в  Minecraft. И стримил занятие на Twitch | Пикабу

Sometimes students turn to the teacher for help or advice. It is clear that they understand the game system well. And if you have mastered the topic of the lesson, then there are no problems with passing the levels of Minecraft.

Teacher training
The Britannica School says that for the first time teachers had to work on developing lessons in Minecraft. But now they have moved to the stage where new levels help them create students.

They all sit down at computers, and everyone works on a certain part of the world: everything is written down and spoken. If earlier the teacher spent two days to create one lesson, now with the help of children he can cope in one evening.

It is important to be able to adapt tasks from the school program for Minecraft. It's not just about building a world by destroying or building blocks, it's about solving certain tasks.

"There were no methodological developments or recommendations that we could use. All we have is our own work. And, of course, they still need to be improved, ”says the school principal.

The reaction of children and parents
The first few months were difficult for the children. They were constantly waiting for Minecraft. They could not adjust to learning, because they knew that they would play in class. They only thought about it, listened inattentively to the teacher.
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