Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Collaboration Begins Soon.

Well there was very little interest in the group funded collaborative server, in fact only 1 other teacher was interested. So I will host it on my school server for a while, and if more people get interested and I need more space, well I guess we cross that when we come to it.

Matt (the teacher I am collaborating with) and I chatted on skype about some ideas, and I was just setting my server up so we could jump in and start building our planned map together, and I managed to crash my server :(

For some reason my Ubuntu server does not like it when I try to copy things, a right click and copy crashes my remote connection and I can no longer access the server, I have tried using ctrl-c as well and that crashes it half the time, so I think it might be time to move back to a windows based server. The only reason we tried a Linux server to begin with was we were trying to get rid of the lag issues that the developers fixed in their latest release anyway, so there is no point sticking with a system that is unstable.

So what is the plan for this collaborative map? Well we are going to create a map based on cell division, and are hoping to create 3D models of the process in the nucleus. So kind of an educational adventure map about mitosis and meiosis. We are going to focus on the structure first and then work out the 'adventure' part once we have the basics built. The great thing about this is that my animal cell texture pack can be used again as well as some of the structures from the cell itself. I guess it is time to learn how to use schematics with worldedit.

I should also update you on where the cell map is headed, after further discussions with my Biology students we have decided to skip the energy transfer part of the plan, and I think we might wait to re-enter the cell until we do protein synthesis, that way I can get a really good setup going for that, where the students can be tRNA and have to bring specific amino acids to place in the sequence.

As always thanks for taking the time to read, and if you have any comments feel free to write them below.

Monday, 16 July 2012

I Want to Collaborate.

Hi there, I have been very quiet on here lately, I have been on 2 weeks worth of holidays and have been busily relaxing and having some down time. Now however the term has started and things are about to get noisy again.

I have been very slack in terms of finishing the building of stage 2 of the animal cell map, which is 'zoomed' in views of structures like the cell membrane. To be honest I have not even started, and then there is stage 3 which is energy transfer, followed by stage 4 which will be about movement of substances within cells. The stages keep going, with stage 5 being about DNA replication and transcription and then stage 6 about translation.

I think that is where I want the cell map to head, which is a massive job and quite a depressing amount of work, but on a brighter note I am starting cells with my junior Science class this week, which means all the hard work in getting the cell built pays off yet again as we are going to be able to tour a 3-dimensional cell in Minecraft.

On a sad note I am no longer teaching Humanities, so all my ideas for Geography and History will not be implemented by me, I am however hoping that the other teachers will pick up some of the ideas and enthusiasm and run with at least some activities in Minecraft, which might mean that I will need to make some maps for them to use. I think I want to drop to part time teacher, part time map maker, but there is no money in map making so that is not going to happen at this stage.

Speaking of map making, I put a post on the Google Minecraft Teacher group asking whether teachers out there would be interested in collaborating on maps to lighten the load on everyone, my plan is to host a large server and 'split' it into smaller servers that could be 'rented' for a lesser cost than you could rent a Minecraft server for, by buying in bulk I will be able to cut costs a little bit. These smaller rental servers would be for teachers to collaborate on maps together, but there has not been a great deal of interest yet, so I thought I would pose the same question here.

Is there interest out there in group funding a large server that we could split into smaller collaborative servers to help get maps made quicker? I know how long it takes to make great maps, and if we can share the load and get many different ideas into maps it will make it easier for all of us using Minecraft to teach.

I did get one response to my post on the Google group, and the suggestion was that I not only open it up to teachers, but students too, this in theory is a great idea, however I know that my students don't have MinecraftEdu at home, so they could not help outside of school hours, and until the 'Personal' edition of MinecraftEdu is released to the public I am not sure how viable this option is.

I have always said that I would start a server when the personal version was released for anyone to join, but I want to move the timeline up and get teachers working together on maps. So if you are a teacher using Minecraft or MinecraftEdu and would be interesting in collaborating on some maps with other teachers, please let me know. If there is enough interest I will start the ball rolling now.

As always thanks for taking the time to read and feel free to use the comments below.