An interesting discussion broke out on twitter today, I probably should have kept my mouth shut, about the 'control' options included in MinecraftEdu. I was saying that they are handy to have, and that it is better to have them and not use them than to want to use them and not have them. The people 'arguing' the other side were of the opinion that it would be better if they weren't so handy, as this is what takes the power away from kids.
I do, on occasion, use the
'freeze student' command to get the students attention, is this taking
away their power and making the learning less? I am not sure, it gives
me the reassurance that the students are focused on 'me' or what I am
saying and not on running around the world doing what they want. So for
teaching a concept I don't think it lessens the learning. As for the
relationship the student and I have it doesn't seem to have a negative
affect their either, I think they understand why I do it and that I
don't do it just because I want to, but because I want to make sure they
are listening to my instructions.
I used the 'mute
students' once in a class when the chat was going silly, does this bring
the focus back to the learning, or does it take the power away from
students to freely express themselves and therefore damage the learning?
I think it brings the focus back.
As the discussion
progressed it seems to me that perhaps I have the game based learning
thing all wrong. The reason I am using games is to engage students in
learning, to make it more interesting and more memorable so that perhaps
they will remember it when needed. This does not seem to be what game
based learning is all about. One tweet sticks in my mind.
@Tickleme_elfman not teacher/facilitator/mentor/instructor - in #gbl
you're the play-maker. You are a non-playing character at most.”
Now this intrigues me.
If I am not the teacher in my virtual 'classroom' and I am a 'play
maker' as Dean suggests then the game is the teacher, what am I getting
paid for? This is a massive shift in my 'teacher' self from someone who
is 'in charge' of a group of students learning, to someone who, it
appears, has no charge over students learning, other than creating the
world that is in front of the students.
If this is the
case how can I tie these two teachers together, remembering that not all
of my class time is spent in a virtual world. Do I set up missions in
which the students wander the virtual world gathering knowledge (how do I
make this fun?) and then use real world time in class for them to
demonstrate that they gained the supplied knowledge from the game?
also need to take into account that it can not be just random knowledge
gained (although incidental learning is great) it needs to be knowledge
specific to what I am supposed to be teaching them according to my
So where do I go from here. No idea at all.
Do I keep creating concept specific maps like neurotransmitter map? Do I
find a middle ground like my 3d cell map, where students have the
learning already and use Minecraft to demonstrate knowledge gained? Or
do I head into completely uncharted territory, for me at least, and make
some more 'freeform' maps that do something?
is that the impression I get is that if am going to use game based
learning properly it needs to be the third option, but the reason that
ends in 'something' is because I have no idea how to get there, I have
no idea what it is, how it looks or how to go about building a map that
So as always I am opening up the floor to you, my loyal readers. Is what I am doing currently great work, or just a mediocre attempt to combine games and curriculum?
Don't get me wrong, I am enjoying what I am doing too much to stop, but
if people who have been doing this longer than I are saying that what I
am doing is not quite right, or not the best for the students, then I
need to change what I am doing so it is better for the students.