Sandra Dodd

This is part of that post; the whole thing is good, especially for anyone with lingering doubt about whether learning happens while playing video games:

Minecraft Learning

(Note: The following list is NOT comprehensive and is more of a list that resulted from brainstorming and getting ideas from my friend. In some places, I will explain and, in others, I won't. If you see something that I missed, please leave a comment. I think it would be helpful to parents and educators to see how much can be learned from playing Minecraft. If I didn't provide an explanation and you would like one, please comment.)

Governance structures:
The difference in rules on the different servers. The difference between consensus (where everyone has to agree) and majority (most of the people have to agree). Dictatorship where laws and rules are made by somebody else and you have no say in them at all. Different rules for different structures. Creative versus survival, can be compared to places where everybody has what they need versus places where you have to fight to survive. (Pure Socialism vs. Capitalism (a bit of a stretch but the concepts are there)). Appealing to authorities when you disagree with a decision or have problems within a particular Minecraft community/server.

Good citizenship:
How to be a good citizen in a virtual world. Includes following rules, respecting other people�s properties. Rules and why they are or are not necessary. Rules on servers are equivalent to laws. Consequences for breaking rules/laws when playing on other servers.

How to communicate effectively with others through both written and spoken word, which includes consideration of purpose and audience. When the kids are working together on a project with others, their communication style is very different from when it is just the two of them. When working with others to achieve a common goal, the written and spoken word tend to be more goal oriented and relies heavily on the vocabulary of Minecraft. When goofing around with no common goal, word choice and communication style are more informal. Communication style, including word choice, changes based on who is on the call with them.

Host of vocabulary related to game play including words like griefing, teleporting, game mode, etc. What does TNT stand for? (We still can't pronounce that one!)

Cultural differences:
Some people celebrate Easter. Some celebrate Passover. Different family structures only child vs. a child with lots of siblings. Slang and vocabulary used in different parts of the US. We have learned words from our friends and they have learned words from us that seem to be related to regional differences.

Personal computing:
Interoperability and different types of computers. PC vs. Mac. Finding games to work on both in order to facilitate working with somebody with different abilities/capabilities. Our friends have Mac and we have PC. It requires us, and the girls, to look for games and programs that will work on both platforms in order for them to collaborate more effectively. This comes into play when looking for programs to edit Minecraft skins.
Awareness of the use of IP addresses for locating servers. Awareness of networking and what a server is. File naming conventions (when saving Minecraft skins). The difference between uploading and downloading. Functionality of different software packages, ie Skype.

Creating personal networks:
Finding other people to play with that share common goals and ideas.

Cooperative learning:
Working together to achieve common goals. Includes sharing resources and sharing the work load in building and creating facilities within Minecraft. Sharing of ideas. Helping each other with spelling, reading, and vocabulary.

The difference between a colon and a period and where to find them on the keyboard. The use of the backslash in order to issue commands within game play.

Typing in different codes, IP addresses, creating signs, and using the keyboard to communicate. Where different special characters are located on the keyboard.

Math/number sense:
In different contexts, numbers mean different things. The use of numbers in an IP address. The use of numbers to represent concrete things. For example, you can give yourself items on Minecraft by typing in a numeric code. Concept of more than and less than. Players discuss who has more items in order to figure out how many items are needed to build. Addition and subtraction: How many more items are needed? If I give you 3, then that will leave me with one. Division: If one player has 3 items, how can those items be divided up so that everyone has the same amount? All the base 4 math, multiples of 8

On some servers, you can mine items and take them to the local shop to sell so that you can buy the items that you need to build.

Peer to peer coaching/tutoring:
Helping each other problem solve. Sharing ideas and information. Helping a friend by spelling words for them, giving them codes, or other items.

Geography/Social Studies:
Meeting people from across the US. So far the learning network consists of people from Maine, Texas, PA, Minnesota. (Perhaps others.) Includes map skills due to the in game map. Using a compass to identify north, south, east, and west. Using land marks to find your way.

Time and Time zones:
Pennsylvania is one hour ahead of Texas. To find out what time it is in PA, we have to add an hour. Recently, our friends went to Arizona so we had to coordinate play time between Arizona and Texas. Arizona is one or two hours behind Texas depending on the time of year. To figure out what time it was in Arizona, we subtracted two hours from time in Texas. Another cool thing that we did was look at the daylight map to see if it is/was light or dark where our friends are. Here is a really cool daylight map so you can see where in the world it is light or dark at any given time:

Geology and lots and lots of mineralogy including discussing all of the different types of ore. What is a biome?, gardening, types of plants and animals. Creating habitats. different types of building materials. Types of weather since it rains and snows on Minecraft. Concept of sun rise-sun set, seasons, weather (and geological results of weather and lava), moon phases, Circuitry: using redstone to create circuits, pulleys and levers and pistons

different types of buildings, design principles

Saying please and thank you. Telling people goodbye before logging off. Being mindful of those around you. Watching your language. Being sensitive to others and their differences. The importance of introductions when a new person gets on the call. Letting others know when you are going to be away from the computer. Speaking clearly and not trying to talk with things in your mouth. (If on Skype while crafting.)

Creating minecraft skins, building/designing houses, creating sculptures using principles of design, concept of dying white wool to make other colors in order to create sculptures. Music appreciation. (I forgot about this one but music was something my friend added to the list and then I remembered that there are music players on Minecraft that let you put records in.) Musical composition because there are music blocks that you can hit and produce musical notes. Art appreciation. There are painting that can be placed within the game. Elaborate art galleries have been made using Minecraft art.

Playing with various people from across all age groups and all cultural backgrounds.

Intrapersonal skills:

How to deal with frustration and other emotions that may arise while playing with others.

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Sandra Dodd

I got an e-mail note for this topic:


Your email prompted me to go back and read a blog entry I wrote last year about learning via Minecraft. I am linking to it so you can check it out if you like. I am guessing my daughter Katie (about to turn 9 this week) has spent approximately 2000 hours playing Minecraft over about 10 months-- an average of 6 hours a day. She seems to have gotten everything she can out of it for the moment, and has just recently moved on to Roblox-- a similarly open-ended game.

If you look at previous blog entries, keep in mind I have been reading, watching, trying and waiting in bits and bobs since my last post (last fall), and keep learning all the time.

I'm not putting the name because... because of the other topic. :-)

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