Friday, 17 February 2012

Role Playing, Hmmmmm.

I have two things that you need updating on. First is the tutorial world, and teaching my year 7 Science class how to play Minecraft, the second is the lunchtime survival 'town' role play.

We have basically finished the tutorial map as it stands, it took about 45 minutes from start to 'finish'. I am pretty sure the students can all move, relatively effectively, around the world of Minecraft. They can destroy and place blocks with some degree of efficiency. (I really like this sentence, it sounds very 'reporty')

They have no grounding in crafting yet, so that is my next task. Last year to teach basic crafting I created a custom world and placed trees, stone and coal around. The idea being that by the end of the lesson the students would be able to craft the basic tools and torches. I also created a sheet that I handed out that showed them the recipes they needed. At the end of the lesson, I was not entirely sure that it was a success, and even now thinking back I don't think we actually used crafting in any of the lessons.

So the big question for this post is 'Do I teach them how to craft now, or if I do need it in a lesson at some stage teach them then?" Basically 'just in case learning' or 'just in time'. A lot of research states that 'just in time' is a much more effective way to learn things and gives real purpose to the learning, but as a teacher it makes me a bit uncomfortable not teaching them everything they might need to know in the future, even if that future is 'only a game'. I do have a bit of time to think about this and come to a decision as they, and me are going on year 7 Camp next week. However I would love to hear some of your ideas, remember my goal is not to teach them Minecraft, that is just a means to an end. My goal is to teach using Minecraft, and in such a way that it is easier for the students to learn and visualise.

I will leave the heavy 'stuff' behind and get onto some more exciting things. I had a quick meeting, we weren't going to play, at lunchtime on Thursday to discuss the options that I had thought about for our 'Minecraft club'. Basically it came down to the fact that I didn't want them 'just playing around' like we did last year, but that I wanted it to be more interesting and we talked about the role play scenario of being a town and each having jobs. I should also mention that many of the students had already heard about my idea as they kept 'pestering' me as to when I was going to run Minecraft at lunch again. They all seemed on board with the idea and were very eager to get started, so I started up the server with the cleared area for our town with sectioned areas for each persons business.

There is a team of three of four 'bakers', a 'postman', someone to man the hotel, a timber worker and some others that I cannot remember. I figure everyone is going to be a miner, but there is going to be a blacksmith, and my hope is that only the blacksmith will be able to work iron into tools, it is going to be an honour system so it may not happen exactly as I plan. I have decided not to try and install more mods over the top of the Edu mod, so we are working on a barter system, not a currency system. All of this is in very early days and I said to the students that we might as a group decide that this way of playing is not what we want and change it, nothing is set in stone.

So once the students really get their buildings going I will take some screenshots and post them up here and will definitely keep you updated. As always thanks for taking the time to read, and also if you would like to make a comment regarding the 'just in case' versus the 'just in time' please do, I have a week and a half before I need to make a decision so all input will be greatly appreciated.


  1. If its a question of either or - I'd go with "just in time". But maybe consider a combination: Demonstrate crafting for the whole class with some examples, and I suspect students who are interested will take that input and discover more themselves. Maybe show them how to access info on crafting on the minecraft wiki. That way you might gain some crafting experts who can assist their peers, when you actually need to do some crafting.

  2. Thanks Andre, for some silly reason I hadn't thought of a combination, and the idea about 'crafting experts' is awesome. Two thumbs up for you good sir.