Having watched my son spend countless hours creating all sorts of worlds in Minecraft I've become intrigued by what this virtual world enables users to do.
His latest effort has involved creating a substantial virtual world that is "self-sustaining"; in terms of the automated processing of the minerals mined into various forms of fuel and energy.
How has he learned to do this? He and his small group of friends have shared the things they've learned through trial and error, and by following the online tips and support that are built into Minecraft's user interface.
For the more complex things, they've watched instructional, videos that have been uploaded to YouTube by other users, and by reading the blogs and help sites created by the user community. This is the essence of a highly performaing, informal learning community!
During the recent holiday period my son and his friends even formed themselves into a team to develop instructional videos which they intend to upload onto YouTube to share what they've learned, in particular, their attempts at 'modding' the environment to create the specific features and components they want in it – thus they've becoming contributors to the community of users as well.
- explore real life buildings
- practise ratio an proportion
- learn about survival
- visualisation and reading comprehension
As the interested parent of a young user, and as an educator, these ideas resonnate with me – and I'm sure there are a number of other things that people could come up with as well. For me, Minecraft is a welcome addition to the field of virtual worlds, and a welcome alternative to the first person shoot 'em up sorts of virtual world games that have been so popular in the past (and still!).
I'd be keen to hear stories from anyone who is actually dong the sorts of things suggested by Miller in the Edutopia article -seems we have a lot to learn from each other in terms of harnessing the potential of these sorts of environments, and of how to accommodate the contribution of informal learning that is going on among many of our learners.