AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) —Minecraft Education is a program sold by Microsoft that is now part of our Microsoft Office 365 portfolio. With this purchase we are able to give every staff and student in Canyon a copy of Microsoft Office, Windows, and Minecraft. This version of Minecraft is the same version that the general public can buy with added features that make it very interactive for educational purposes.
Not only are there pre-built lessons to assist teachers with instruction using “gamification” in learning, but it also unlocks opportunities that would not be available in traditional environments. For instance, students can acquire chemical elements and “craft” materials using their knowledge of chemistry. They can learn math through pre-built math lessons or even by interacting with the program which is essentially manipulating a world of 1x1x1 unit blocks. Even the ability to explore pre-built worlds like Macbeth let students experience the literature rather than just read about it.
One of the more intriguing thing that excites me about Minecraft is the coding portion. Students have a character in the game called an “Agent” and they can use code to program the agent to do the same types of actions a player would do in the game. So, lets say the student wanted to build a house. They would have to plan the layout of the house, do the math on the dimensions, scale and plan for things like stairs, windows, doors etc. Then the student would write the code to match the building plans or (pseudocode) and when they run the code the student receives instant feedback on what they did correctly or incorrectly. The best part is that students can collaborate on these project. Perhaps a few students are writing code, a few students are designing, others students are decorating, but all students are having fun while learning.
When you make learning fun, you engage students meeting them where they are and turning a difficult task like learning to program into an adventure!