It’s not Minecraft that’s important, it’s what goes on behind the scenes
Minecraft has taught me many things since I have been playing and using it in the classroom. Although the game is an important aspect of what we do it is not the most important part. Some would at this stage suggest that it’s the learning that the students are undertaking that is most important. Yes, to a point, but where would this be if I was not learning too? Where would this be if I did not immerse in online environments? Would the learning that the students are doing be the same?
There are many blogs and articles on the Internet that you can access that talk about 21st Century learners and what learning looks like along with the skills that the students need to be learning. I believe we need to look beyond this and look at how we as learners are learning. A blog post by @whatedsaid which can be found at http://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/10-principles-of-effective-professional-learning/ struck accord with a conversation a colleague and I had last week. My learning impacts on my learners and where I can take them. In a world that is rapidly changing, where we are moving to learning environments that are no longer confined to the boundaries set up by the physical school we need to actively address this as educators and how we are participating beyond the classroom, the school and our system of employment.
When I look at what the students are learning in Minecraft it would not be as relevant or as powerful if I, as their teacher, were not participating in active communities. Communities that exist beyond the school I teach in, communities that exit online. Not only are these communities a support to my learning, and hopefully I am to theirs, but they are an access point to opportunities for my students. Just this week I have been reminded of this. The following pic is a conversation that was led by Rhys Cassidy who was our guest tweeter at @EduTweetOz this past week.
At the end of the conversation Rhys has provided me with a couple of links to communities that will prove interesting to explore. This is just a moment that may provide other opportunities, a valuable conversation. You will note from the discussion, in the pic, that my students have collaborated with Nick in NSW and brought about some awesome change. Our connection to Nick has only come about due to the community connected with Massively@Jokaydia. Being involved in this community has led to connections with so many other great people (the list is big so to name would mean I would miss someone, but you can see who they are by checking me out on twitter and google+) who have supported and worked with both myself and my students.
One thing that has been particularly powerful about these connections and communities is the authenticity that they provide for my students and the work that they do. When my students post on our blog at ProjectmistRHS I know that their work will be viewed by others. Their work will receive comments and likes. They will be provided feedback and they will gain even more reason to participate. The really great thing about being involved in educational communities is that these wonderful people are supporting the learning of my students. I know the community and am able to ensure that my students have an understanding of the power of using social media and other Web 2.0 tools in a positive way.