Primary education: listening and observing
Primary education: listening and observing

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6 Games in education

Games are increasingly appearing in classrooms and there is a trend of creating education-specific versions of well-known games. For example, Minecraft is a hugely popular game among children, with over 60 million players worldwide at the time of writing. Minecraft is considered a ‘sandbox’ or open-world game, in which are there are no given tasks or objectives to complete and instead players are free to explore and interact with the world in their own way, much like young children would if playing in a real sandbox. Players can build or explore, play alone or with others. Every world (or map) the players explore is entirely unique; there are no rules or even guidelines for play so there are infinite possibilities.

The education-specific version of Minecraft, MinecraftEdu [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , provides teachers with additional extras including: camera and portfolio tools to assess or record activities and document progress; the ability to act as a guide rather than a player in the game; and moderation tools to manage or restrict collaborations.

Activity 7 Parents, children and ‘Minecraft’

Timing: Allow about 35 minutes

Read The parents’ guide to Minecraft. Think about the kinds of skills children could develop while playing. Next, watch this video of Nathaniel Bott, a grade 10 student from Tasmania talking about the Minecraft in Schools Transforming education (MIST) project that took place in his school.

Video 3
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Having read the guide and listened to Nathaniel’s experiences, think about the following questions and note down your responses.

How might Minecraft be used to support teaching and learning, particularly of STEM (science technology engineering and maths) subjects in the primary years?

What kind of environment for learning does Minecraft create?

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Minecraft provides an immersive environment and one what learners have control over – they can choose their own level, the way they engage and the challenges they take up. For some learners the space may feel ‘safer’ than the real world, an environment in which they can experiment and explore without the fear of being wrong, or the anxiety of speaking to or in front of others.

The immersive and interactive nature of Minecraft means that learners can engage with mathematical or scientific problems in a more authentic or exciting way. The ecology of the world is reflected and ecosystems modelled and experimented with, the effects of gravity can be observed, iron or gold can be smelted to produce pure metals and sand transformed into glass. Mathematical operations can be visualised, concepts of area and perimeter explored, symmetrical structures created and more abstract geometrical concepts visualised.

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