Thoughts about #Minecraft – digital identity

Since attending the #MinecraftLA Educators summit I have been thinking about the notion of identity and citizenship in the digital space. This is obviously something that I have thought about before, but this time I am considering how we allow this to play out in our classes and schools with regard to using Minecraft. It leads me to wonder about the way in which we set up the use of Minecraft in the classroom. We have the opportunity to use Minecraft in a powerful way, that builds on the affordances of the game with regard to digital identity and citizenship or we can choose to remove this aspect of the game – what is the best choice and what is the ethical choice?

The two questions I have here are important for consideration. With every choice we make in a school space students are part of the process (either actively involved or impacted) and hence are also experiencing first hand decisions made along with role modelling. When I consider this I start to think on a deeper level the approach to be considered regarding running Minecraft in the classroom.

My understanding is that the cheapest way to set up Minecraft in the classroom is to use MinecraftEdu, it offers the opportunity to purchase a class set of accounts and the mod for minimal outlay. Many schools are using the one class set of accounts with many classes, so each account technically has many users. The other nuance MinecraftEdu has, by running it in the offline mode it was designed, is there is no need to authenticate the accounts with Minecraft before logging into the local offline server.

So this raises questions for me that need to be considered. Is it ok for more than one student to use the one Minecraft account? Is is ok that the accounts don’t have to authenticate with Minecraft (which, if you take this one step further, really means you don’t need to purchase the accounts at all, just the mod)? What are we subtly teaching students through doing this? Kids are smart, they soon work out how the set up works. Is this modelling good behaviours?

How different is this to say purchasing a class set of text books and sharing them amongst four classes that operate at different times? The difference is that Minecraft has the opportunity to be powerful in creating ones identity and one’s avatar represents the individual in the game. Would we assign one email account to 4 students? Is that ethical? Is that the best choice? If we say no to that, what makes sharing an account in Minecraft ok?

2 Comments

  1. E Blackadder. says:

    I think you’ll find in many cases there are schools that want to “do minecraft” because it has surface appeal and they saw it on TV. This is on a par with “doing Powerpoint” or “teaching facebook” and has the same shallow substance. However not allowing them to do it is possibly worse as they then move onto some other shiny thing.

    • dbatty1 says:

      You raise some interesting points to ponder here. You might find this an interesting read http://www.followthelearning.com/?p=202 Which raises the question of game or tool. The final comment in this blog post is “If we are going to use games in our classrooms, we need to do our homework. We need to take the time to learn about games and what makes playing them special. Doing this will inform our pedagogy and increase our chances of “not wrecking the game“. ~IMHO”

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