Sunday, March 8, 2015
Minecraft for the Classroom?
I recently attended the IntegratED conference in Portland, Oregon. One of the sessions I attended was presented by Diane Main who did a great job of showing how MinecraftEDU could be used in the classroom to increase student engagement and find new ways to address the common core in the classroom. I was super excited but quickly became disappointed to find that MinecraftEDU didn't support iOS, only personal computers. With a classroom full of iPads it was not going to be possible to use this great resource. I was not willing to give up without a fight however. Although nothing compares to the tools that minecraftEDU gives the teacher in the classroom, there is a less teacher/user friendly alternative for those with iPads.
Pocketmine.net is a website setup by a 20 year old programmer from Spain who created open source software that allows anyone to setup a server to create a virtual worls accessible by Minecraft pocket edition. I quickly setup the server on my home computer, got a static IP address and forwarded my ports to make my server accessible from outside my local network. Before I knew it I was accessing my server from school and decided to tell my students about my plans to try to use it in the classroom. Before I knew it there were more than 20 of my students who wanted to help me build a world for us to learn in. I'm not a technology teacher but I suddenly had students researching how command line interfaces work, using commands at a prompt, and problem solving when coding didn't work. The server software allows for a basic world to be created, but programmers who would like to, can create plugins that expand the basic capabilities of the Minecraft world like adding an economy, secure logins, chat censoring, and much more. The only problem I had was not being sure how all the different plugins worked. I put students in charge of figuring out how the plugins worked and how we could create a map for students to use.