Minecraft sometimes scares me – in a good way
At the moment I am busy, as most of you are, just getting through the day. I feel somewhat exhausted but excited by the things that I get my mind stretched by in relation to what students want to learn through using Minecraft. I have a group of students who are exploring ancient civilisations and the way they were formed along with the conflict that was encountered. The young man whose passion this is amazes me, the fact that he has his friends on board all exploring this is also inspiring. I really would love to be a student in a lecture theatre at uni with a lecturer with such passion, his understanding is astounding and his delivery of how a range of civilisations have evolved is undertaken in a way that is not biased, rather it is aimed at enabling understanding of what was truly going on at the time.
This exploration of ancient civilisations has lead to an incredible build on our Minecraft server. It has all been created in survival and has lead to the students discussing the use of PvP (player-v-player) with the aim to act out battles of the past, obviously with their own twist added. So this is where it gets scary for me, but in a good way. I don’t like PvP! Just being honest. Do I let my stance impact on the learning of the students in my class and the peer to peer learning and social learning that is occurring between my students? Do I jump in as teacher and say what I think and go with what I am comfortable with? Ok, so we have had a number of meetings with the lead students and discussions with the rest of the class in small groups that have naturally occurred as well as being orchestrated. We have overcome the issue that is presented by having younger students on our server as we have rearranged our worlds and created one that is totally survival and as a result of this has attracted a certain type of player, the ones that keep asking the question of PvP. In this world we have the very focussed group of students that are building the civilisation that want to explore the PvP and another group that just want PvP, not to mention a few others who have not exerted their opinion. So where do we go from here…… I hate PvP, on a personal level I get edgy and nervous in game, but do I stop it without the students forming their own opinions, do I stop them gaining an understanding of what is best? Sometimes we need to be immersed to gain a better understanding – after all some of us do learn better through experiencing and then having the opportunity to reflect on it. (“We do not learn from experiences; we learn form reflecting on our experiences.” – John Dewey, 1933)
Yes, my arm was twisted – more due to the fact that this is about the students and not me. This is about their learning and this is about ensuring that they remain connected their learning. Yes, it gets turned on….yes I am scared….and I am aware that I will need to work hard in this lesson to ensure things don’t go pear shaped. People who play Minecraft are very attached to the things they have mined, crafted and built – not to mention their understanding of what is fair and ok. I go into the class still feeling very uneasy but aware that I want my students to learn – this is what is overriding my fear.
To find out what occurred visit this blog Pondering by one of the students. This student is one of our lead students in Minecraft and he rolled out the PvP and monitored it – scaffolding was put in place to ensure that this was as safe as possible and enabled a debrief at the end. Good has come out of this – but it scared me, it was not something that I wanted to do, but I now feel relieved 😉
**I would strongly advise careful consideration re PvP in an education setting – it needs purpose, it cannot be rolled out lightly**