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Minecraft in Education—Why?

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If you ask teachers around the world why they use Minecraft, they might come up with a wide array of answers. Colin Gallagher lists his reasons in this chapter from Minecraft in the Classroom: Ideas, inspiration, and student projects for teachers.
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You may have had to answer some questions from school administrators, parents, and other teachers as to why Minecraft is so important to implement in your school. Normally, just looking at teachers’ work online (especially in my Minechat series!) is enough to prove the benefits, but sometimes a clear set of reasons comforts people more.

If you ask teachers around the world why they use Minecraft, they might come up with a wide array of answers. I’ve listed my reasons in this chapter, but I’m sure I’ll add to the list as teachers find more incredible ways to use Minecraft in their teaching.

Collaboration

Working with other people is probably the most challenging aspect of school (and life). Teamwork activities happen regularly during the year in my school, and they involve students trying to learn a lot of very tough collaborative skills, such as negotiating, listening, following directions, and accepting criticism. I think that we, as adults, also struggle with these things at times.

In Minecraft, there is huge potential for developing these collaborative skills. I’ve talked with dozens of teachers about their Minecraft projects, and they explained that usually students work together to complete tasks. If they are not working together, they are usually in the same world trying to ignore distractions and avoid conflicts. Minecraft is, in essence, a social game. It begs to be played with other players. In an educational setting, students can work on collaborative skills in Minecraft when planning, building, and presenting a project as a group.

When students work as a group in Minecraft, it is vital that they work effectively. There’s something interesting about Minecraft: Often, at least initally, working together effectively does not happen. I think the freedom is too much for some students, or they have not adjusted to using Minecraft in an educational setting. Conversations, guidance, and advice between group members and between groups and teachers can help develop the collaborative skills needed for effective group work.

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