Video games as a whole are often looked down upon by many educators. Some games are inappropriate and some young gamers spend excessive amounts of time playing video games. There are some games, however, which can allow for the tables to be turned. If a popular video game can be used effectively for educational purposes, it’s a win-win situation.
A tremendously popular online game right now is Minecraft. Basically, it’s a game of building and surviving. Players are dropped into an online world inhabited by themselves and other players. They must build to provide for themselves and protect themselves from a possible monster attack at night.
There are definitely some educational opportunities in the crafting portion on the game. Students can use reasoning as well as trial and error to use the materials they gather in order to make new materials. For example, paper and leather can be combined to make a book. A player can get wooden planks from a tree, then make the planks into sticks. Sticks can be combined with coal to make a match. Within the game, you can craft complex things such as musical instruments or even a basic computer. Players can learn as they create simple or advanced circuits in the game.
There are also big opportunities for writing assignments that involve Minecraft. Minecraft is a social game, as players interact with other players in real time. A teacher could even set up a private environment containing, for example, his or her class along with another class from within their school or another school. As the students explore, create, and interact within the game, some good fuel for writing is being created. A teacher could have them write a journal as their in-game character. They would explain their experiences, their discoveries, their fears at night, etc. It is often a struggle for a teacher to find a writing topic that truly sparks the interest of students. Using an already popular video game can get this job done.
Why stop there? If done carefully and correctly, there are so many elements of popular culture that can be fused with the classroom. If an assignment involves a student’s favorite TV show or sports team (for example) the student will be much more likely to invest his or her best efforts into the work. It’s a win-win!
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