Category Archives: Teaching

The Amazing World Inside a Kid’s Head When Playing Minecraft

I recently presented Minecraft: Education Edition to about 42 children of various ages. Third graders to grade eight. This was a STEAM event at the HP facilities in Albuquerque, NM. My objective was to ease these groups into learning how to program using Minecraft. I introduced each child to Make Code (by Microsoft), Tynker and Scratch via a new module for Minecraft: Education Edition called Code Connection.

So what did I learn? I found out that coding (with the aid of those 3 code platforms) was easy, intuitive and when they saw that they could create 1,000 chickens that dropped from the sky, with three blocks of code, the nature of their relationship to the game completely changed. Some kids thought about 1,000 blocks of TNT and others focused on examples where complex construction of buildings and earth moving projects could now execute instantly with the help of coding agents in the various platforms.

I have hesitated up until now in making the statement that all kids can code or will be comfortable with code. Tynker, Scratch and Make Code, plus 1,000 chickens have changed my mind.

Given the right tools this generation of children will easily change their own world as easily as our generation has tried to document it’s history and status. If they choose to build a positive existence in a game like Minecraft today, perhaps they can save what we have knowingly destroyed and to do so without the conflict and blatant stupidity that we have allowed to control and endanger the future that is theirs.

Dissecting the FPS

How to make a First Person Student out of a First Person Shooter

One of the most popular styles of games is the First Person Shooter. It doesn’t matter what you believe or think about the Second Amendment. What does matter is that It can be unfortunate to parents and teachers alike that this genre consumes the free-time and often the homework time of many high school aged students. Spending hour after hour shooting military grade weapons at combat enemies, aliens, zombies etc., is addictive. As educators we need to understand what constitutes the apparent and tremendous attraction to both male and female participants in this activity.

Let’s dissect the FPS and find out what makes it so popular. Then let’s build a game where the First Person Shooter becomes a First Person Learner, an FPS where the S stands for student.

My plan is to open a few pages on this blog, where you can join the conversation and create your own valuable amendments to a constitution of ideas. Let’s gather these ideas and start with answering how academics and game developers can make learning more interesting or at least as interesting as killing imaginary foes.

Let’s start now with a simple survey, what could be the top 5 reasons a teenager plays or even behaves as if addicted to a FPS?

My opinion, but my five would be the following;

1. FPS is exciting because of the vantage point. The computer monitor is the eyes of the player.

2. There is always life threatening danger from 360 degrees.

3. If the player is killed, they respawn or get a second chance to continue from where they left off. This means that a student can continue to play for hours and hours.

4. The tool-set (or kit) for the character the player assumes is chosen by the player which helps a student understand the importance of initial choices.

5. Not losing is more important than scoring high and playing at a higher skill level is more important than winning.

Go ahead and comment to this blog and add your opinions, your Top 5 Reasons, and also your ideas on the first subject or multiple subjects we should tackle in a prototype that could accelerate learning methods at the same pace of advances in video game styles.

What do you teach?

How can what you teach become more attractive to a young student?

How can we apply the top five reasons (high school age) students get addicted to electronic games to your topic? Test it? And get it out in the real world classroom to better the future of those we are responsible for?