To be honest, Minecraft is a game I’ve cautiously avoided playing for years now, simply because I knew of its potential to pull me in and consume every precious minute of free time I had. That being said, after downloading and playing the demo version of the game, my suspicions were confirmed. I’m just lucky it was the demo version so I had a definite stopping point. If not, who knows, this reflection might have gone unwritten while I wasted away mining stone and chasing pigs around my little randomly generated world.
The game was easy to pick up and start playing. I can see the controls becoming second nature on about the 2nd or 3rd time playing it. I was surprised with how quickly the days went by in the game. I spent a lot of time hiding to keep from being eaten by zombies and the like, so that was probably the most frustrating part of my experience.
If I were to have started playing Minecraft, perhaps when I was in college and had more time, I would feel comfortable enough to go to my principal or someone at the district and ask for funding to get minecraft licenses for my classroom. From what I’ve read, you can purchase Minecraftedu licenses 20 at a time, which would be perfect for the 19 student computers plus 1 teacher computer in my classroom.
Just like many other attempts to use computers to teach certain subjects (i.e. Oregon Trail), a common problem that teachers have is not really knowing enough about the program to decide on what it is that they would like the student to learn. They have a decent idea and then run with it, regardless of a concrete curriculum or purpose behind it. Kids still love it, but they end up messing around more than actually creating something meaningful. iPads are another great example of this problem. How many schools have paid thousands and thousands of dollars to make sure every student has the opportunity to use this crucial piece of technology, and then barely scratched the surface of their potential for education. I can see the same thing happening with Minecraft, where the students just play instead of focusing on the learning objective, unless the teacher was very familiar with the game itself. This is one case where most students definitely know more than the teacher. That doesn’t mean it can’t be learned and applied, but even with my years of gaming experience, it would take a huge investment in time for me to get up to speed to the point where I felt comfortable bringing it into my class.