What makes Minecraft/MinecraftEdu so engaging to students?

As I continue to think my way through the idea of using Minecraft/MinecraftEdu in the classroom I have had to do some digging into articles and really take some time to develop answers to the following questions posted below. To start with I read a blog post and watched the following video on Dan Pink. Here is the article I read to go along with the Dan Pink video.

Honestly, if you have never read Drive then you must stop and read it now. It is required reading for any human being. I wrote up a review back in 2010 and another little reflection.

What do you think about the Daniel Pink video?  What do you feel is true or false about his research and conclusions?  

The video discusses three motivators from his research as mastery, autonomy, and purpose. I don’t anyone would disagree with these three. Dan discusses a study where they gave people incentives based on work. Mechanical skill worked, but as soon as the skill was rudimentary skill the higher the reward lead to lower performance. The reason, for tasks that are if I do ___, then I get ____ it works. When the task is more complicated it does not work. He discusses another idea that you pay people enough money to take money off the table. Instead of money I instantly though tot school. How can we create an atmosphere of learning where grades no longer matter?  Can we take grades off the table for concern for learning in schools? How do we achieve this type of mindset and culture?

Mastery is the urge to get better at something. Why do people do it? It is fun and we enjoy doing it. Minecraft is an opportunity to become a master in the pathways you choose. Talking with my son who is 10 he believes his skill is working with other people and understanding the layouts of worlds. He readily talked about not being very good at redstone, but that is just no something he enjoys although he likes working with the kids who are good with it. He has figured out how to use his skills with those of others

He also discusses that people want a challenge and mastery with a chance for contribution are the keys to getting work done. Not money(grades), not bonuses(extra credit). You do not get the best ideas when you bank on these to get great work. This goes against the grain for how much of the world works.

Do you feel Minecraft/MinecraftEdu fits within the research of Daniel Pink on motivation?  

What I found to be the lightbulb moment when reading and watching the video are the three motivators described by Dan Pink. It does not really matter the the platform or content or technology. Rather what can we develop in our schools to allow for mastery, purpose, and autonomy? Minecraft might be that solution for some kids. It won’t be for all kids. We have to be careful not to generalize “kids” and think just because millions of people around the world like Minecraft does not mean all kids in our classroom like it.

Minecraft is a place where mastery, purpose, and autonomy are all ingredients so it does fit. As the blog post stated students can create their own goals and when they can do that “their goal is attainable”. One fear I have is that in a classroom would educators allow students to create their own goals or would it be the goals of the educator?

Look at the verbiage of the article and the video.  Where would they fit in the New Bloom’s Taxonomy?

Anytime we look at Bloom’s Taxonomy we must do so carefully. It is a guide. What do the words really mean? Looking at them: remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create are powerful. Minecraft or any high quality project can incorporate all of these. It is not so much that Minecraft is the solution to these elements, but looking at things differently. What are your lesson goals? What are your learning targets? Then, and only then do you look to possible ways to allow students to achieve those goal and targets. Minecraft might be the solution. What often happens with technology and other tools is that we try to fit the learning to the tool. It must be the other way around where the goals allow the chance for tools to help students achieve.

Is engagement enough of a reason for using Minecraft/MinecraftEdu as an educational tool? Can you think of ways that MinecraftEdu could be used to teach the Iowa Common Core?

As I continue to gain a sense of whether Minecraft is a fad in education or something that can really be valuable I read another article online where one statement really stood out to me. In the article, it states, “Kids are forced to explore — first in the game, then out of it.” Think about this for a minute. Anytime you can develop something where students must explore within the realms to develop high levels of thought and then they WANT to learn more so they research new ideas on top of the gameplay you have something powerful. My son will watch videos on YouTube to learn all types of new things. Now, the argument in education is that many of us would not consider this “research” because it does not look like how we did things. So, what are we doing as educators to understand the world of kids as opposed to forcing them to do things that just don’t feel natural to them?

Engagement is an essential piece to learning. If you are not invested learning will not take place. If you can get kids exploring for hours(autonomy) and then doing more work on top to become better(mastery) with the goals they have set for themselves(purpose) you have it all set up for optimal learning conditions.



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2 thoughts on “What makes Minecraft/MinecraftEdu so engaging to students?

  1. Love your series on Minecraft so far. I may even give it a whirl myself.

    I also appreciate your references to Daniel Pink’s Drive. That book changed my outlook on teaching more than most.

    When you attend the PLC conference later this summer I bet you’ll find connections to how the PLC structure can provide purpose (making sure ALL students are successful), mastery (becoming better at teaching all students), and autonomy (teachers working together to design curriculum and assessments that best educate all students) to educators that embrace the PLC model. I look forward to reading the rest of your series, and your thoughts about Pink’s work have inspired me to look at my own PLC thoughts through a similar lens. Keep up the good work!