The Minecraft Teacher

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Autumn MinecraftEdu Update

I just posted this over on the MinecraftEdu homepage. Good rundown on what we’ve been up to lately.

I’ve been more active behind-the-scenes lately. Consequently, this blog has certainly become quiet. Who knows, maybe I’ll start posting more. Or not. It’ll be a surprise!

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Hi everyone, Joel here. I figure we’re overdue for an update about the state of MinecraftEdu.

In short, this truly is an exciting time for us. September was our busiest month ever with hundreds of new schools getting started with MinecraftEdu. As it stands MinecraftEdu has reached students in over 40 countries. It’s fully translated into four languages with many more on the way (get involved)!. Teachers are using it with every age group from kindergarten to university, supporting a wide range of subject areas. How many other learning tools can be used just as effectively in social studies, math, science, language, or technology classrooms? Just to name a few!

Some of our notable recent activities:

  • The TeacherGaming crew is on a grand tour of Europe, running hands-on workshops for students and teachers, alike.
  • We relaunched our wiki as THE destination for learning how to get the most out of MinecraftEdu
  • With the help of the @MCEduCrew, our Devs have started a monthly series live streams featuring in-depth explorations of various MinecraftEdu topics.
  • What should we work on next? Tell us!

Even more exciting is that the MinecraftEdu community is as creative and prolific as ever. There is a highly participatory network of teachers, librarians, youth leaders, parents, researchers and more sharing ideas and supporting each other. These folks are what make MinecraftEdu more than just a piece of software. It’s a movement, driven by people who believe that learning can be different. They demonstrate that we can use wonderful games which kids love to create enriching experiences. They make school more relevant to both the interests of today’s youth, and to the skills they’ll need to learn for their futures. And they keep learning fun!

Now for the question that people keep asking us over and over (especially my Mom). What does the announced Microsoft acquisition of Mojang mean for MinecraftEdu, and for Minecraft in education, in general?

It’s still too early to tell exactly what this means — the actual buyout will take some time to finish. Possibly months. It’s unlikely there will be anything official to talk about until then. But we are eagerly looking forward to exploring how we can move MinecraftEdu forward with Mojang’s new owners.

The best is yet to come!

~Joel

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Jan 5

Your support is needed!

I’m hoping that you will consider helping out a truly remarkable individual and one of the unsung heroes of the Minecraft community.

In the three years that I’ve been working with Minecraft, I’ve been privileged to meet some truly remarkable people. Among them is Davin “Bohtauri” Taylor — the man behind the amazing Project 1845

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The goal of Project 1845 is to build nothing less than a full 1:1 reconstruction of historical Beijing in Minecraft. The team members, led by Davin, already have the entire Forbidden City constructed and are diligently working away on houses, temples, farms, barracks, and more. Davin has pledged to make custom versions of his map available for use with MinecraftEdu so that schools everywhere can use it to educate about this fascinating time period.

But I was quite distressed to learn that the project, and indeed Davin himself, are facing the most dire circumstances. Davin has a life threatening illness and is unable to get the medical attention he needs.

Davin has set up a donation page with more details about his situation and condition here: http://www.gofundme.com/5xobx4

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If you can, please consider helping out!

MinecraftEdu 1.5.1 is now available!

After a long winter of bug fixing, polishing, and cramming in new features, we are delighted to announce that MinecraftEdu has been updated.  As always, MinecraftEdu customers can grab the latest version on our Members’ site.

You can see a detailed changelog on our wiki, but here are some of the biggest additions and improvements:

  • Based on Minecraft 1.5.1 (we caught up, woo!)
  • Support for most Forge mods (this is a big deal!)
  • Improved in-game world controls
  • Improved teacher’s ‘Give Menu’ to allow any item to be given, including those from mods
  • More informative server displays
  • Improved Mac support
  • Updated WorldEdit functionality
  • Ability to automatically upgrade or downgrade (we also changed our version number system to make things more clear)
  • Lots of polish including tool-tips, new icons, and more!
  • Support for Online World Templates (still experimental)

We’d like to talk about that last item for a moment.  One of our dreams for MinecraftEdu has always been to allow the seamless sharing of educational Minecraft worlds.  That dream is one step closer to reality with Online World Templates.  

The idea is that anyone can make a world/lesson/activity, augment the content with custom MinecraftEdu features, and then share it with teachers everywhere.  Teachers can browse what’s available, download a world, and get a server running with that content in just a few clicks.  This basic functionality is now working!

We still have a long way to go, and we haven’t made much content available yet… but we didn’t want to keep this feature to ourselves.  We think Online World Templates will be an indispensable feature of MinecraftEdu and we can’t wait to hear your feedback!

~Joel

MinecraftEdu: How to Connect with MinecraftEdu

From the official MinecraftEdu news feed:

The past several months have been busy ones!

Schools from all corners of the Earth have purchased Minecraft from us and are embarking on amazing projects.  In fact, we are rapidly approaching our 1000th school!  The game is being used in literally every subject area across all age groups.

We consider it part of our mission to network these trailblazers, provide support, and share ideas as widely as possible.  Here are some of the most effective ways to connect:

MinecraftEdu Forums - there is a lively community of educators sharing ideas, solving problems, and providing inspiration.  It’s actually just a Google Group which allows a variety of ways to participate (including email) and handy browsing tools.

MinecraftEdu Chat - This is the most direct way to gain access to the MinecraftEdu team.  We conduct a large portion of our daily business over IRC (Internet Relay Chat), and we are happy to welcome anyone to our channel.  Especially if you are interested in Beta testing new versions of our MinecraftEdu mod!  Either use the link above, or point your favorite IRC client to #MinecraftEdu on irc.quakenet.org

MinecraftEdu Wiki - Our wiki contains a wealth of tutorials and details about how our mod works.  But a good starting point might be this list of Real World Examples.

We are trying to figure out what sort of formalized training and materials we will offer in the future.  But for now, these resources are the best way to jump in, get help, plan your use of the game, and share your experiences.

Join us!

Off to Paris… and some “thanks”.

My blog has been sorely neglected for far too long.  I do apologize.  But I thought I’d dash out a quick note to reflect on a few things.  And perhaps give thanks as us Americans are prone to do on certain Thursdays in November.

I’ve just come from my parents’ house where I enjoyed a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with my family.  I’m now sitting at Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey waiting for a flight to Paris, France…  my first trip to Europe!

I am, of course, headed to Minecon, the second annual convention for the Minecraft community.  I’m going to be participating in two panels.  For the first, I’ll be moderating a discussion with other educators about using Minecraft with children.  And for the second, the entire MinecraftEdu team will be joining me on stage to talk about the creation of our mod and the ways it is being used worldwide.

If you’re going to be at Minecon, make sure to find me and say hi!

It still makes my head spin to think about all the changes in my life and opportunities that have come my way over the past two years.  All because I decided to try this crazy new game that was still in Alpha with my students.

I am thankful for the many supporters who have sent me words of encouragement or helped to promote my work.  I’m thankful for the dozens of other teachers that have shared their classroom experiences with me, offered inspiration, discussed intricacies, and shared pedagogical ideas.  I am thankful for Mojang’s continued support and guidance, and for the awesome MinecraftEdu team who have been on this roller coaster with me.  And I am thankful for my students and their crazy, passionate, innocent energy that reminds me every day why it’s so important to advocate for new ways to teach and to make school relevant, engaging, and meaningful to today’s children.

And, of course, I am overwhelmingly thankful to my family, friends, and colleagues whose support means everything to me.

Come play MinecraftEdu!

minecraftedu:

We are really proud of how far MinecraftEdu has come in a short time, and so we’re excited to start showing it off and hearing feedback. You can have the chance to play it for yourself at two completely free events…

Read the rest..

MinecraftEdu: New Features and Summer Plans

minecraftedu:

Things are moving fast for the TeacherGaming Team. As we begin Summer, those of us with academic jobs are now able to concentrate fully on MinecraftEdu, and we’ve welcomed several interns to our headquarters in Finland.

About a month ago we released a MAJOR update to MinecraftEdu that brought…

Read the rest!

Teens playing MinecraftEdu at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Minecraft Jam.
I recently participated in a Minecraft Jam at the Brooklyn Public library.  It was an amazing event and I will be sharing more information about it soon.  For now, there are some great pictures online from the daylong event.  
Go check them out!
(photo credit: Owen Long)

Teens playing MinecraftEdu at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Minecraft Jam.

I recently participated in a Minecraft Jam at the Brooklyn Public library.  It was an amazing event and I will be sharing more information about it soon.  For now, there are some great pictures online from the daylong event.  

Go check them out!

(photo credit: Owen Long)

Watch my panel

UPDATE: You can now watch my entire panel discussion (and the rest of the conference) right here: http://events.theatlantic.com/technologies-education/2012/

 (direct video link)

ORIGINAL:

I’ll be appearing at the Atlantic Technologies in Education Forum in Washington D.C. on Tuesday.  I’m taking part in what looks to be a really interesting panel on the roll teachers play in game-based learning.  My panel starts at 10:25.

It looks like you’ll be able to watch it live here.

Some other nice things recently.  MineShift/KQED recently did an article on MinecraftEdu that was great.  Lots of really nice quotes, like this:

Though Coia’s school was willing to pay for the game, he says he would have gone for it anyway. “Looking back, I would have paid it out of pocket if I needed to,” he said. “It’s that good.”

Also fun… my work was recently talked about on the CBC, Canadian Public Radio.

This has a special personal meaning for me…  Although I’m from New York City, I spent a lot of time in Nova Scotia, Canada growing up.  The CBC was always on and it’s really my idea of a perfect radio station.  So I’m delighted to have reached those particular Canadia airwaves!

May 9
Mapping out a Hunger Games activity for a library Minecraft Jam with @pathough. Really excited to explore themes of the book with Highschool age kids!  No arena deathmatch, but there might well be combat if it evolves organically. http://i.imgur.com/HX1oW.jpg

Mapping out a Hunger Games activity for a library Minecraft Jam with @pathough. Really excited to explore themes of the book with Highschool age kids!  No arena deathmatch, but there might well be combat if it evolves organically. http://i.imgur.com/HX1oW.jpg