Video games can be a tough sell to administrators, and games that connect to outside servers are a tough sell to IT admin who try every day to make sure our students and networks are safe. How did I manage to get approval for this pilot? After talking with my super-supportive principal, I wrote a proposal to help convince administrators and Information Services to get on board. They are all excited about the project and eager to help, which I am incredibly thankful for.
I am working with a couple of other Instructional Technology Specialists in my district who are also beginning a Minecraft pilot at their middle school campuses. This is very helpful, as we can troubleshoot and try things out collaboratively. There's a lot to learn about setting up and maintaining servers, installing mods, and gameplay (redstone continues to be a challenge for me!).
How do I intend to use Minecraft at my school? For now, it will just be a part of our Schoolwide Enrichment Model in the form of an enrichment cluster of 2nd and 3rd graders. This cluster is mainly student-driven, so another teacher and I will be facilitating whatever projects the students decide to create.
I have used my after-school Tech Club as beta testers already, just to make sure the computer lab's computers can communicate with the server and that everything runs okay. This beta testing taught me a few lessons that I'll post about later.
I am really excited to begin this new adventure, although it can be a little overwhelming at times. Gamification and the use of popular games within the curriculum is a really interesting topic that I don't have much experience with (research ongoing!), but I hope that this pilot shows that effective use of Minecraft results in
- increased positive attitudes about school
- increased student interest and performance in other subjects when used in conjunction with Minecraft
- improved student communication and collaboration skills