Everyone knows that Minecraft is a global phenomenon that has gone on to become the best-selling video game of all time in the decade since its initial release. But what many may not know is that the game has an “Education Edition” that schools all over the world (although to be clear, anyone can buy and use this edition of the game) use as a tool to teach students everything from science, mathematics and coding to language arts and history. The Education Edition even has lessons on such things as digital citizenship, equity & inclusion, and climate/sustainability.
Minecraft in the Classroom
What Minecraft: Education Edition is perhaps best known for in the education sphere is its ability to help students develop a “soft skill” set - that is, a set of core abilities that are essential in just about any field one can think of: critical thinking and problem solving, time management, teamwork, interpersonal/communication skills, and the like.
Building Interpersonal Skills in "Empathy Village."
One of the ways Minecraft can help students develop core skills that will be necessary in the workforce is through fostering learners’ emotional intelligence in its Social and Emotional lesson kit. In one specific lesson titled “Empathy Village,” students are given a house in a small in-game village and are asked to customize the house using slates. Slates are made by the student answering questions about their game avatar like “Who is your hero and why?” or “What is your biggest fear?” and “What is your proudest accomplishment?”
After completing about 24 or so of these questions comes the second part of the lesson, where the student gives a presentation about the avatar they have created, putting themselves in the role of that person. The idea is to teach the student empathy – or rather to foster the student’s innate sense of empathy, which is one of the most elementary building blocks of healthy communication, an important facet of just about any type of work one can imagine.
Teaching Teamwork Through Collaborative Multiplayer
Another example of Minecraft Edu Ed. building user’s communication and interpersonal skills (and thus honing their ability to work in a team environment) is through collaborative worldbuilding in its multiplayer mode. It’s no surprise that the lesson is a prime example of the educator's most fundamental maxim: make learning fun. It allows students to work together in a playful, stress-free environment.
In one such lesson players must work together to build a Viking long ship (for a raid). Obviously, this is a team effort in which players must employ a considerable amount of planning and organization, which can only come to fruition if the players communicate effectively. The lesson also builds learners’ problem solving and time management skills as they endeavor to gather resources and employ them, all in a collaborative effort. They say the best way to learn is to do, and that is the beauty of tools like Minecraft Education Edition, in allowing students to learn through experience rather than having information thrown at them and learning it by rote.
Minecraft Education Edition is a paragon of how video games can contribute to society and culture just like any other art form (and yes, video games are an art form), not to mention a surefire way to silence anyone who still says video games can’t be educational. And it is clear that its potential as a learning tool has yet to be fully unlocked.
You can learn more at the Minecraft for Education website.