The last site I was using to host my blog about using the Minecratft EDU mod at an after-school program has folded due to greater inactivity, so I am migrating my blog here. This blog is to track my progress of experimenting with Minecraft in an educational after-school program for refugee students in Western New York.
Today was the first time any of the kids at our program had heard of Minecraft. It involved two 45-minutes sessions of four kids each. I wish I
could get more kids on at a time (there is certainly interest among the
others in the program), but that is all our current equipment allows
for. MinecraftEdu worked great aside from one hiccup. Due to a problem
with one computer, I had to bring in my personal laptop so that I could
have a spot on the server with the kids. Unfortunately I hadn't
installed MinecraftEdu on it yet, and there is currently a bug in
Minecraft 1.1 with the installer (scheduled to be resolved within the
week, I'm told) so I couldn't get it installed. I was able to get in
touch with support at MinecraftEdu rather quickly and with their help
had the machine running before the end of the second session. Because
of this, most of the time I was hovering over kids' shoulders, pointing
out which way to go, giving mini-tutorials on running and jumping at the
same time, etc. I had one student's account set up with teacher
settings so that I had access to them if I needed them, but I was
hestitant to use them too much because that meant having a kid slide off
his computer until I was done.
Some of the kids picked it up really quick -- they were running
through the tutorial pretty quickly, getting bored with looking for
levers and wanting to just start building. A great moment was when a
kid hit the first lever while the group of students was standing near
the door; the suddenly open door surprised them and incited a moment of
brief excitement as they all ran through the door as fast as they could
to see what would happen next.
But then there were also a couple kids who had never used "wasd"
before. I quickly forget that although I have been playing games all my
life, the concept of using space to jump must be taught at some point.
And for a couple of kids, today was that day. They all made
considerable progress by the end of the 45 minutes, but it will still
take some time before they really feel comfortable with the game.
I'm not sure yet just what sort of direction this group is going to
take. I want to let the kids get more familiar with how to play the
game and see what they are interested in from there. I've got plenty of
ideas for the group (but am always open to more), but I really want the
kids to be able to make it their own.