What’s this Minecraft stuff all about?

Last weekend I was lurking in another Twitter chat. This time it was #CAedchat, a weekly chat that happens Sunday nights at 8:00 PM. Many educators I highly respect participate in it. This particular evening the topic was gaming in the classroom, something I have no experience in, so I didn’t have a lot to say. So I lurked.

I really don’t get the whole gaming in the classroom thing. I had Oregon Trail in my first computer lab. Then there was Sim City. I didn’t get it then, and I still don’t get it. I am not trying to be critical here of those who do use games. But I think when someone asks me why I am using a tool in the classroom I need to be able to give a good reason why I am using that tool. With games I can’t do that. But I know its just me.

On Tuesday our school was doing state testing. I had some of the kids who did not have a test to take, so we had some time. One said to me “Mr. Hall you should get Minecraft up in here.” So I gave him a challenge: convince me why, from an educational perspective, I need to put Minecraft in my class. The next three hours my room was busy with students doing research on the topic. Kids were debating which points were most important and which would not convince me. They had notes. They argued over who should make the case. They found an unblocked way to run Minecraft  to give me a demo.  They were engaged.

At the same time I turned to Twitter to find someone who could convince me. It started a whole new dynamic with my students trying to find things before I found them on Twitter. It was a lot of fun, and the kids made some strong arguments, but it was Stephen Elford ( @eduelfie ) chiming in from Victoria, Australia who won the argument. 

Once I figure out how to pay for it mine will be among the classrooms using Minecraft for students to create things. Give me a few weeks.

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