EVO MC MOOC follows Dave Cormier’s 5 steps to success in MOOCs.
Week 1 was all about giving us time to understand how the MOOC worked in practice while getting used to the basics of Minecraft. As I had started in Minecraft Weeks before our first week, I had loads of time to practice the basics. My main aim as moderator was to get the basics so I could support participants who were accessing MC for the first time when needed, but as we are in a community with participants with different levels of experiences and teaching contexts, we’ve had a lot of support going on within the community and I’ve already learned a lot from other participants.
By the end of Week 2, we were able to share our experiences in MC, what we’ve learned and what we intend to learn more. From the articles and presentations, I see how Minecraft offers possibities of tasks and development for teachers and learners in the game as well as outside the game in various areas of content knowledge, and also how it is open-ended and flexible. Moreover, while Minecraft offers opportunities for teachers to set the goals, it also give players (students) the opportunity to come up with their own goals during the play. I see also the potential for students to go beyond the playing by customizing worlds, designing challenges, adventures or games in MC.
As discussed in Smolce & Smolce article, Minecraft does allow for a lot of moves, decision making, creation, skills development, etc. I reckon possibility space is hard to get exausted in MC. So, thumbs up to MC for that. Coming to how much time one will want to spend on MC (game pacing) will depend IMHO on how it will be explored by the individual and whether one has someone to share interest, achievements, goals, etc . According to Sykes and Reinhardt, gameplay is a social practice and a form of literacy and as such, one needs the ability to interpret and generate their own meaningful signs to the community that practices it.
What I find most interesting is that despite being intentionally designed to spawn creatures that can, as Smolce & Smolce states, create unnecessary obstacles which allows players to choose to deal or not with those obstacles.
Minecraft has singleplayer and multiplayers option. We can choose to toy with it on our own or play with others. Singleplayer can be a great place to be creative, train ourselves, explore the world and practice skills before adventuring in multiplayers. The more skilled and literate I become in the game, more eager I am to be in the game with others.
As a player
With the amount of tutorials online, EVO MC community to support me and my own son as my mentor, I had no problem getting the hang of it. I’m enjoying it so much, and there is so much one can do that I get overwhelmed. As a person who likes to have goals when doing something, survival mode seems to interest me more than creative. Even if we don’t really die, just respawn, I like the challenge of staying alive, managing hunger and the thrill of hiding away from Mobs as my combats skills still not quite good yet! I hate skeletons and their arrows!
I’m also having a blast exploring commands, command blocks and redstone. A long way to go before I can create my own adventure maps, challenges and mini-games. If I ever will!
I also thought it was really cool to observe others building and learning from each other how to build mechanisms using redstone. We learn in the game by teaching each other and in another server for kids and parents that my son and I have been to, it’s amazing how players are welcoming, friendly and helpful.
As a teacher
I think there is a lot of expectation from teachers and school adms to make sure that whatever we bring to our class, it meets the course curriculum. In our school, for instance, the main objective is to develop students’ oral skills. But as we work with coursebooks reading and writing is unavoidable. Because developing speaking is important and our course curriculum is still based on grammar, getting MC to fit that would be most difficult. Well, we actually could but it feels like getting in the way of the game. The thing is that games not designed for education has its own agenda. I think we can take advantage of that agenda and our students can learn tons of things out of it, language related or not, but we can’t just force it to be what it is not.
I’m an EFL teacher in Brazil and one of my concerns though is that not all students are confident yet to speak in English with others or really in a level that enables them to have conversations with other players synchronously through voice tools like Skype. Asynchonous tools would work better for these students, so it wouldn’t be realistic to expect MC to make students speak in English when they are not ready for that.
I was looking around for examples of teaching practice using Minecraft to teach/learn English and came across couple of videos where the teacher shows that MC is conducive to practicing speaking and writing. And I agree that it stimulates language production but it’s unlike for low level learners to be able to understand or produce a lot of language in real time communication in collaborative projects and they are likely to switch to L1 if they are in a monolingual group.
Even with this limitation in mind for beginners, from what I heard in Jeff Kuhn and Bron Stuckey‘s presentation, there is a lot of potential to develop language related tasks within the game as well as outside. Tasks such as role playing, creating comic books, presentations, collaborative projects, etc that can suit all levels of English.
Learning about the possibilities of the game and how it works by playing with others is really fun and I certainly, as English is my second language, learned loads of new words in English by accessing books, wikis, pages, videos, chats, etc. I wonder though what would be like for a beginner in German like me to benefit from watching tutorials in German and trying to build my vocabulary in combination with instruction or self-instruction as I am not really enrolled in a course.
My creations in EVO Minecraft 2016 server:
List of blogs from Week 1 and 2 from other participants: