Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Testing the Server Connection -- Success!

The past two sessions of my after-school Tech Club have been devoted to testing out the installs of MinecraftEdu in the computer lab and seeing whether they can successfully connect to the local server and play.

They can!

The kids were SO excited to hear that I'd finally gotten Minecraft approved and installed, and they were beyond ecstatic to try it out! All 22 students were able to launch Minecraft (which let me know that I had successfully modified the permissions on each machine) and connect to the server (so I knew the server had been set up correctly).

The first time we played the included tutorial world, since some of the students had never played on a PC before. There is quite a learning curve if you've only played on Xbox (like me!) or a tablet, as many students soon found out. During the second session (which was our winter party) the students convinced me to launch a survival world with PVP (player vs. player) enabled. Wow! What a difference that made on the server! With students dying and respawning left and right, there was quite a lot of lag going on. Eventually, we had to turn off the PVP setting and that seemed to help the lag issue a little bit. One thing to note was that this time we only had 16 players, so the PVP must somehow eat up a lot of memory.

Learning the controls

Checking out the tutorial world

Playing with others allowed me a chance to try out the teacher tools that come with MinecraftEdu. Freezing students was pretty useful, as once the kids had begun playing they were not interested in being interrupted! I only froze them a couple of times to give directions (and once just because I could and it was fun to hear their groans of irritation). I also found the teleportation function really useful. I had several kids who had a really hard time making their character jump and move the way they wanted, so when I could see the frustration level coming up I would teleport myself to them to help or just teleport the kids to another location.

What I learned:

  • I still need more practice using the teacher tools, especially the building ones.
  • My server needs more memory.
  • When PVP is turned on, kids will kill each other and steal their stuff. I need to have discussions about in-game ethics, have kids generate community rules and consequences for infractions, and enforce those consequences consistently and fairly.

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