MinecraftEDU: the practical guide for using it at school

* The following article of the 1st September 2015 refers to one Minecraft guide of a version no longer used and available to the public. Read it to get ideas because it is certainly considered current especially for those who are approaching this tool. If you want to start a Minecraft laboratory inside your school do not hesitate to contact us

Let's see the Minecraft teacher guide together. The comprehensive Tolfa institute in the province of Rome is an excellent example of the integration and development of innovative educational projects with the aim of promoting a conscious use of digital technologies. The use of technology and the realization of experimental laboratories, the pupils are more involved and are not easily distracted. You build something new and different from child to child. Even the teacher puts himself into play side by side and experimenting with the students without the need to transmit pre-packaged information. The cooperation and creativity of the children is strongly stimulated. Not only do they learn by trial, but the error itself becomes something positive and constructive: a starting point for the next experiment.

At the end of the last school year, in agreement with the teachers of this school, we experimented with the use of the Minecraft videogame in teaching and the short one Minecraft guide that you find is the result of this experience. It is an online environment made up of pixelated blocks that can be modeled in order to recreate worlds, landscapes and virtual scenes. Following this logic it is indeed possible to recreate the Ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, or draw the boundaries of States and Regions of the world and still recreate the DNA, molecules and atoms. The students reconstruct the topics of study through this videogame, entering the heart of matter, pixel by pixel, brick by brick.


How is MinecraftEdu born?

The first to introduce Minecraft in teaching was  Joel Levin, professor of computer sciences in New York, who, thanks to the results achieved in the classroom, decided to found the company TeacherGaming LCC and launch MinecraftEdu, the official version of the homonymous videogame for teachers and students.

MinecraftEdu he then resumed the sandbox and open-ended philosophy of Minecraft, making available for the school an educational environment that allows the creation of online landscapes and buildings, shaping large pixelated cubes with which recreate past settings, molecular structures or simple geometric figures. In this way students can virtually immerse themselves in the past and study (almost) closely the history, geography, but also biology and science.

The students will be able to give vent to their creativity by interacting with classmates and experimenting, in complete autonomy, in changing the digital graphic environment that surrounds them, facing challenges of logic and space management, which can be solved in many different ways. , in complete freedom, without following a predefined line of play.


The role of teachers

MinecraftEdu offers a number of useful tools for the teacher that facilitate management, moderation and interaction with the whole class. There are menus dedicated to the teacher that allow him to modify the options of the game adapting them to the educational needs of their students, choosing special blocks that can facilitate the tasks or the orientation of the boys, graphical tools to monitor the progress of the tasks assigned.

Teachers also have access to a shared library that collects lessons and activities created by other users of the platform and made available to consult, modify and adapt them for their class. It is then possible to search for virtual maps of interest by filtering for topic (art, foreign languages, mathematics, science, technology, etc.), for type of world (adventure, exploration, observation, puzzle, history, based on objectives) or for age (5-6, 7-9, 10-12 and so on until you get over 18).

The advantages

Thanks to the ease of customization and access to sharing resources created by the teachers' community, it is possible to find points of interest and to create new training elements, ranging from art to mathematics, from the promotion and encouragement of collaboration between young people. The pupils will be able to reach common goals by optimizing the few resources available up to face delicate issues such as the cyberbullying.


The translation of the English guide

Browsing on the site you can apply and participate in the translation of the game guide in Italian. Thus, with the teachers of the Tolfa inclusive institute, we had access to the project "MinecraftEdu Translations"Hosted on the collaborative Crowdin location management platform.


Armed with patience, at the beginning of June we started our translation of the files available: Client Translations (2341 words), Global Translations (87), Installer Translations (400), Launcher Translations (962), Server Translations (1880) and finally Server Launcher Translations (2040).

You can access the translation of the guide in Italian by clicking here and registering with the platform.

After the translation of the software we are reviewing, however, contextualizing it directly through the use of the application and correcting the directions of translations that were suggested via the web, now we are focusing more on the translation of the "Tutorial" World that accompanies the MinecraftEdu version, just the one created at the time directly by Joel Levin.

How MinecraftEDU works (Tutorial)

Started "World Tutorial"Users find themselves in a large room, surrounded by welcome signs and some representations on the walls: it is the zone 1 where the boys, having to follow a blue line along the way, will become confident (in case they need it) with the basic movements (like jumping, walking, swimming and digging).

The teacher can "digitally materialize" inside the game to help the children who have difficulty: in this way the support takes place directly within the game by the teacher. To verify if indeed the basic movements have been implemented follow the zone 2 It is that of the obstacle coursefull of pegs to climb and more or less wide jumps to complete.

In case some students have difficulties, for example with the largest jump, the classmates themselves can explain their techniques or the teacher can intervene by teleporting the pupil in difficulty over the obstacle. zone 3 It is that of the Brickyard in which the students, after reading the various notes present, will have to complete a small puzzle. "Dig and build"Is the name of the  area 4in which the children learn to dig and place the pixelated blocks in order to achieve the objectives that the teacher has assigned to each of them. In zone 5, small users, working in groups, must replicate predetermined forms with specific materials: they will then discover that although they are very similar as materials, the pebbles and the gravel behave differently.

There zone 6, the camping is less static and linear than the previous ones and the children are free to explore it: the teacher can decide whether to enable children to build something, propose new group activities or individual, listen to proposals that will not be missing from the boys themselves.

Of course, the course started will tend to bring all the kids to use as soon as possible the MinecraftEdu client as well as to explore worlds dedicated to the improvement of the foreign language. It is our intention to propose small MinecraftEdu worlds that help children to stop and read instructions in English, identifying and translating, with the help of online tools or apps that we will make available, the new words they will encounter.