Minecraft: Build, share, hack
Posted September 20, 2016on:
After reading this article on Microsoft pushing Minecraft into classrooms, I was not taken by the efforts of the technology giant. While they might have an education arm, they do not have an education heart.
Instead I liked Mimi Ito’s description of the game.
Specific educational features of Minecraft — shared virtual world, construction tools, hackability— are not new, but what’s really new is the fact that it has been put together in a package that is embraced at a massive scale by kids, parents, and educators.
The ability to build freely, share what you build, and hack so that you have better tools, effects, visuals, etc., are probably why Minecraft caught on so rapidly. This led to why Microsoft bought it and why schools might embrace it more widely.
The emphasis is on might.
Some progressive individuals already have, e.g., the Minecraft Teacher. This was way before Microsoft jumped on and bought the whole bandwagon as well as the trail and the world it was travelling on.
School leaders and teachers no problem with building. I will resist the urge to describe Minecraft as digital LEGO. Instead I will point out that schools might include Minecraft under the trendy umbrella of making and maker spaces.
Schools might not be so open with sharing. Trump might not have his wall, but schools have long maintained walled gardens to protect their classroom bubbles.
School are definitely not keen on hacking even though it is legal and encouraged in Minecraft. There is a whole ecosystem of customising the game to suit your needs. There are entire servers based on modifications of the Minecraft core that provide different experiences, e.g., even more limited space and resources, Hunger Games-like survival, simple emulations of other games.
That said, schools might reluctantly embrace Minecraft hacking under the trendy identity of coding. Ah, much better.
So far, though, not every feature of Education Edition is being met with whoops of joy. For example, Microsoft chose to include in the game virtual chalkboards — a decidedly old-fashioned tool plunked down into a 21st-century game.
Minecraft has the literal and figurative building blocks to go forward, up, deep, and wide more rapidly than schooling can. This movement will be lead by learners from age 4 to 40, and by innovative teachers.