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Using Minecraft for game-based learning in the classroom

Started by Tessa Gray 29 May 2019 5:05pm () Replies (4)

It’s the month of May and we get to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Minecraft, where apparently we’ve watched pixel blocks being arranged a whopping 436 billion times so far! So what makes Minecraft so loved? Five years ago, the simple answer was:

Minecraft is many different things to many different people. It’s a playground for the artist, architect, engineer, and computer programmer, where imagination is the limit when it comes to building whatever they want. It can be both social and solitary, relaxing and invigorating. It’s fun and also educational. It’s a vast place to explore, where players can venture into great, unknown worlds, climbing mountains and crossing oceans. Or they can be stranded on a desert island, and test their survival skills with only the most basic resources. In short, Minecraft is whatever you want it to be! https://www.readbrightly.com/why-your-kids-are-still-talking-about-minecraft/

Today, Minecraft has evolved to include new objects and worlds, where both can be combined in a mixed world realityEducators are increasingly acknowledging Minecraft can be used as part of a game-based learning methodology to inspire writing, explore real-world concepts in Maths, Science and Chemistry, to create and manipulate objects to overcome challenges in both single player and multi player mode. Minecraft has also been used as an assessment tool for learning. By using Minecraft, teachers can also learn from their students and learning more about how they learn and play.

Minecraft users can:

Minecraft as an open-ended tool where students can build, design and create in a virtual world of endless possibilities that reflects the progress outcomes for Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes as part of the Digital Technologies curriculum content. Ie: design, develop, store, retrieve, test outcomes and share digital content in order to meet technological challenges.

Computational Thinking: Coding in Minecraft

Computational thinking is about addressing problems of scale by designing systems and automating solutions. In Minecraft, this could mean programming a building action: instead of building something yourself brick-by-brick, you could direct the game to build it for you according to coded inputs. You can do this with Minecraft Edu's "Code-builder " tool, which encourages players to tinker with the Minecraft game-world through a simple block-coding interface. Students can solve problems by coding or create their own scenarios, like the Hero’s journey for others to solve. The possibilities are endless, check out Minecraft Hour of Code for more ideas.

Why use Minecraft in the classroom?

Expanding on the game's potential for play-based learning, Microsoft released an education edition of Minecraft in 2016. Included in the education edition are tools designed for learning management, such as:  

  • a "classroom mode" providing an overview of the world map and student activity
  • tools for collaboration
  • "allow and deny" permissions to manage student activity
  • a camera and portfolio tool to track progress and evidence learning
  • a vast collection of lesson plans, online courses, and tutorials designed to help teachers facilitate learning in Minecraft.  http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Teaching/Future-focused-learning/Minecraft

Want to know about using Minecraft as a tool for learning? Then check out Enabling e-Learning’s new page on Minecraft. For more about Minecraft’s Education Edition (part of Ministry of Education's software agreement with Microsoft) resources and support see Microsoft Education website. You might also like to contact community members like Caroline Bush (Minecraft teachers group owner) Sam McNeill (Microsoft) or view his blog, SamuelMcNeill.com for top tips for starting out with Minecraft in the classroom.

Interested in diving in some more? Are you keen to give Minecraft a go to gamify your student’s learning and enable them to learn through game play? We’ve love to hear more. Feel free to leave a comment below to share the first thing you plan to do to make this happen in your classroom.

smiley Join us on the 13th June, as we host a webinar on, Using Minecraft as a learning tool: 13 June, 3.45pm - 4.45pm. In this live event, we’ll hear how primary and secondary teachers are using Minecraft to enhance learning opportunities in the classroom. Feel free to register here.

Also see:


  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 07 Jun 2019 5:30pm ()

    Kia ora koutou, here's an interview with a guru,Tim Muir, STEM teacher talking about how St Thomas of Canterbury College integrates Minecraft in the classroom as a learning tool.

    I thought this venn diagram of how Minecraft can be used for both Computational Thinking and Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes might be useful as well. What do you think?

    Thank you so much Tim for your time for this interview and for your story about using Minecraft as a learning tool in Enabling e-Learning.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 14 Jun 2019 10:38am ()

    Yesterday James Robson (Forrest Hill Primary) and Andrew Corney (Tauranga Boys College) shared how they're using Minecraft in their primary and secondary classrooms to support and enhance learning opportunities through gaming based learning and design.

    During the webinar, we also touched on the benefits for students, curriculum integration as well as links to Digital Technologies content. For more templates, web resources and examples see the following presentation.

    Check out this cool wee Minecraft story re-telling a famous tale of a troll...made without any adults involved!

    If you have any more comments, queries or questions, please add them to this discussion thread and feel free to share with your colleagues and peers.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 05 Jun 2020 10:15am ()

    Here's a koha for schools and kura - FREE Minecraft Education Edition training sessions

    There's two streams running Beginning and Intermediate
    Attendees of the Beginning sessions will come away with a solid understanding of what Minecraft: Education Edition (M:EE) is, how to play it, how it can supercharge classroom learning, and next steps continue in their learning journey.
    In the Intermediate session (1 more date left!), we explore the amazing Ngā Motu world which teaches ākonga and students about the indigenous language, culture, and people of Aotearoa.
    The remaining sessions are taking place on these dates.
    Minecraft free training sessions
    2pm - 5pm on Friday 5 June
    3pm - 6pm on Wednesday 10 June
    10am - 1pm on Thursday 11 June
    2pm - 5pm on Monday 8 June  
    Feel free to sign upand tell your friends.

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