Minecraft in Schools

A solution by Three Cubes submitted to Let Us Study In a Better Place

Minecraft is the most popular game among schoolchildren. Minecraft Education Edition provides all the tools for a new and engaging way to teach in the classroom. The sandbox setting of the game allows for various different approaches and subjects to be taught. The game environment fosters collaboration, resource management and creative problem-solving skills.

(Pitched: 15/07/2018)

One Page Summary

We believe that Minecraft Education Edition is the perfect tool to bring education in the classroom to the 21st century. Minecraft is a lego type computer game, where players are able to create various constructions from different building blocks. In 2016 the game was adapted for schools with the release of Minecraft Education Edition. This new version of the old game includes both administrational tools for teachers to have control over their lessons, but also subject related modules (like programming or chemistry).

Here are the main advantages of using Minecraft as a teaching tool:

  • The 3D world of Minecraft allows for better comprehension of spatial concepts like perimeter, area, volume and others all of which are key in STEM subjects.
  • Students are able to build and explore together, which fosters collaboration and teamwork. This also lends itself well to project-based learning.
  • With the help of prompts, non-player-characters and other tools, teachers can create narratives within the Minecraft world that can explain historical, literary or language concepts.
  • The sandbox world allows hands-on trial and error learning.
  • The game allows students to enter a flow state, which enhances learning and memory.

We would be able to provide a solution to the challenge "Promoting design thinking in education". Our goals align closely with the ones of the Challenge Owner. Design thinking is intrinsic to successfully deploying Minecraft as an educational tool by the teachers, which is exactly why teacher trainings are an integral part of our solution. At the same time, being a sandbox game, Minecraft is fosters design thinking in children as they have find creative solutions in the game environment.

There are two main components that comprise our solution:

Teacher training
In essence, Minecraft Education Edition is relatively easy to use. There are various tutorials that can get a teacher up and running. However, our experience so far shows that only really creative and motivated teachers are able to start using it individually. The main reason is a generation gap resulting in lack of general computer skills and gaming experience in particular.
When we do trainings for teachers we start with a basic intro into gaming, how to use WASD keys and mouse at the same time. With such an introduction the teachers are much better prepared when we go into the specifics of using Minecraft in the classroom.

During our trainings teachers:

  • learn how to use Minecraft Education Edition;
  • try out pre-made example lesson plans;
  • create their own lesson plans in groups with other teachers.

The business model for the training is pretty straightforward. Most of the countries have allocated budgets for teacher trainings and our aim is to tap into them by partnering up with local training companies.

Educational material
Even though Minecraft Education Edition is a product that can be used straight out of the box, we have already observed that the lack of prepared material creates a barrier for adoption. There is a need for an equivalent of a textbook or homework material to increase adoption as the teachers are getting familiar with the new tool.

For this we intend to create batches of exercises and lesson plans for different subjects all set in the Minecraft Education Edition environment. The exact subject and grades are up for discussion with respect to the local circumstances of the Challenge Owners.

For the monetisation and distribution of these educational materials we intend to partner up with one or more educational publishers in the local market. We are currently such a partner in Lithuania where we are testing Minecraft homework for primary school students. The educational publishers of textbooks are interested in such solutions as the competition and public pressure drives them to look for new and innovative educational material that would replace the paper textbooks or workbooks.

A big benefit of using Minecraft in schools is that it is owned by Microsoft. It is currently investing a lot in the education edition of the game with constant updates and improvements, community building activities and certified trainings. They have a long-term strategy to support this product.