Minecraft is truly a blank canvas..
Minecraft is truly a blank canvas waiting to be transformed, after all it “is a game about placing blocks to build anything you can imagine.” (http://www.minecraft.net/, 2012). This too can be said about the learning that goes on in Minecraft, it’s only constraints are our preconceived ideas about what learning and assessment should look like. The more we play this at school the more creative and interesting our learning becomes. We have just had a new group of students join our class and they have the added bonus of seeing what the previous group has created. This has been a positive for them as they are immediately building on the previous students ideas, creations and concepts. They are taking what others have learnt further.
Students are now beginning to incorporate:
- Blogs with their learning http://natbott97.wordpress.com/ and http://minecraftinschool.wordpress.com
- YouTube channels http://www.youtube.com/user/TheProjectMist http://www.youtube.com/user/HarryMess1 http://www.youtube.com/user/The1ToFear These are are made and uploaded at home by students – YouTube is blocked at school. If it were not for Minecraft at school the latter two channels would not have been known to me, let alone the interest that these two students have in this field. As a result there are students who are now keen to try machinima and general videoing of their work for themselves. FYI The1toFear’s channel and HarryMess1’s channel are not made with the intent to be viewed by children or at school.
- Podcasting, two students are considering using this to demonstrate what they are doing in Minecraft.
The thing I love about what these students are doing is that is not forced, it is a natural extension of themselves as a result of what they are doing in the game. From this they are building their audience base, both known and unknown. As they expand on their work they are creating their identity, not to mention engaging in conversations with people that would not have been conceivable 10 years ago. To see the face of a student light up who has just realised they have had 12 hits on their blog that morning, or received 5 replies to a post that he has made is an extremely wonderful moment to experience. The audience means a great deal, it builds confidence, helps shape who they are and inspires them to continue. Can we understand this moment if we have not experienced it?
It is not hard to see that this is giving some students the opportunity to demonstrate their literacy skills using a range of medium. In fact, some of these students may not provide evidence of their actual ability within the “normal” class setting. Even more exciting is the fact that they have a real audience. The teacher is no longer the audience, they are part of it but for the specific purpose of assessment. Maybe this is the shift we need to take, but is it the shift we want to take? Am I comfortable, as the teacher, no longer being viewed as the audience by the student. In taking on this position of non audience member do I need to view the work differently? If I do not view it differently will the assessment that I give it be affected negatively? Do I, as teacher and assessor, need to immerse myself into the creation of similar work and understand the audience if I am no longer the audience that the work is aimed at? Will this allow me to assess more effectively? Or can I just sit in the old paradigm and do my job well?