How Minecraft Can Be Used in Education
You may know that Minecraft is popular with gamers, but did you know it's also becoming trendy in the classroom?
Gamification and video games as a learning tool have been a hot topic of research for the past few years, and while Minecraft was originally designed as just a game, it turns out that the flexible, sandbox nature of the game makes it a perfect tool for teachers of any subject.
What Is Minecraft?
In Minecraft, players can mine and craft 3D building blocks of different materials within a generated world of varying terrain. It's a sandbox game, meaning there is no overall quest or plot — players decide what they want to build and do.
From the beginning, Minecraft was used by creative teachers as a tool in the classroom to bring historical buildings to life, encourage students to work together on group projects within Minecraft, etc.
In 2016, Microsoft released a version of Minecraft specifically for educators called Minecraft: Education Edition or MinecraftEDU for short.
The basic core of the game is the same, but the education version adds extra features. Students can download the game at home without having to pay for their own version of the game, and they can take photos within the game and share them with other students.
If you're ready to start using Minecraft in the classroom, here are all the resources you need to get you started.
New to Minecraft? Here are some introductions and overviews so you can see if it's something you can put to use in your classroom.
- MinecraftEDU Educator Review: an overview of MinecraftEDU software and its possible applications in the classroom, including reviews from real teachers.
- Minecraft in Education: Leveraging a Game-Based Learning Environment: a webinar series that introduces you to Minecraft and its impact on education.
- MinecraftEDU on Arizona State University's Center for Games and Impact: PDF downloads and videos on using Minecraft in education.
- MinecraftExperience: a global crowdsourced wiki to explore the possibilities of Minecraft in learning.
Is Minecraft actually an effective tool for teaching? Find out what the experts have discovered.
- Exploring Application, Attitudes and Integration of Video Games: MinecraftEDU in Middle School (PDF): this study assessing the use of MinecraftEDU in classroom practice found that most teachers and students believe that it's fun, enhances creativity, develops discovery, and is a good application for creating and exploring immersive historical environments.
- Learning English in Minecraft: a case study on language competences and classroom practices (PDF): this study looks at the use of Minecraft to supplement language learning.
- Using MinecraftEDU to Establish Common Ground and Increase Collaboration: how using MinecraftEDU in a college level American Literature course may help promote a more constructivist and collaborative style of learning.
- Exploring Critical Thinking and Negotiation of Meaning Through MinecraftEDU: A Case Study of Elementary Language Learners: this study looked at the use of Minecraft by a group of elementary-aged English Language Learners to see if patterns of critical thinking, problem solving, and negotiation and co-construction of meaning were present.
If you're ready to get started, here are some beginner tutorials for you to learn how to play.
- MinecraftEDU Wiki: a great place to get started learning about MinecraftEDU, from installation to lesson plans.
- Minecraft Education Edition Resources: check out these tutorials for complete beginners to get started playing the game, and then put them in action with lesson plans grouped by age.
- MinecraftEDU Controls (PDF): a basic 1-page instruction sheet on keyboard and mouse controls in MinecraftEDU.
To see how MinecraftEDU looks in action, watch these video tutorials.
- MinecraftEdu for Beginners Part 1: a series for teachers who are completely new to Minecraft and have no clue where to start.
- Using MinecraftEdu — Part 1 — Introduction: the first video in a complete tutorial series on MinecraftEDU, for both teachers and students.
- TeacherGaming YouTube Channel: TeacherGaming is a game development company that shares plenty of helpful MinecraftEDU tutorial videos on their YouTube channel.
Now that you know how to play, here's how you can apply your new skills to teach children in the classroom.
- Ideas for Using Minecraft in the Classroom: from bringing history to life, to working on reading comprehension, there are countless ways to use Minecraft in the classroom.
- Minecraft in a Humanities Classroom: how to use Minecraft to supplement a class on global religions and test your students' knowledge.
- Minecraft in School: a wiki devoted to hosting ideas, lessons, implementation strategies, and more for using Minecraft in a school setting.
- Pixel Art Coding: a computer science lesson where students invent their own programming language as a group, and use it to encode and decode pixel art.
- Teacher's Guide: Five Ways Minecraft (and Other Video Games) Can Boost Student Writing Skills: five ideas for using Minecraft in a language arts classroom.
- Minecraft Maths: an idea for math teachers to use Minecraft to teach students about technical drawing, where students can learn about perspective, depth and isometric view.
- Minecraft at SAA: Battlefields & Special Projects Complete: a lesson plan where students researched Civil War battlefields and recreated them in Minecraft, including project videos.
Tired of the basics — or need something special to bring your lesson to life? With mods, anything is possible.
- qCraft: a mod that brings the principles of quantum physics to the world of Minecraft.
- Galacticraft: a mod that allows you to explore the solar system in your own spaceship.
- Custom NPCs: add custom characters to make your world more interactive.
- The Minecraft Teacher: all about computer teacher Joel Levin's experiences in using Minecraft in the classroom.
- MinecraftEDU Elfie: this blog is by a secondary school teacher in Victoria who is interested in leveraging technology to engage and educate students.
- Minecraft Teachers Google Group: a Google Group dedicated to helping teachers use Minecraft to facilitate learning. A great resource for materials and discussion.
While Minecraft seems like a simple game at first glance, its simplicity makes it ideal for using in countless creative ways to supplement your students' learning. Get started with the tutorials and lesson plans above, and your students will be more immersed in learning than ever.
Further Reading and Resources
We have more guides, tutorials, and infographics related to technology and learning:
- A+ Math Student Guide & Resources: tips and tools for learning math.
- Web Resources for Digital Literacy in the Classroom: different ways to use the internet in the classroom.
- Educational Websites for Kids: a great list of websites to help kids learn.
Fun Ways Kids Can Learn to Code
Want to get your students interested in programming? Check out our infographic, Fun Ways Kids Can Learn to Code