Is Minecraft the Ultimate Educational Tool? | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios
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Is Minecraft the Ultimate Educational Tool? | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios

Here’s an idea– Minecraft is
the ultimate educational tool. You guys remember Minecraft. We made this other
video about it that one time where we talked
about how it’s basically going to save us all. But in case you
need a refresher, Minecraft is a computer
game that can best be described as first person
Legos with a dash of husbandry, a heaping helping
of architecture, and a pinch of slay the dragon. In Survival Mode you have to
gather resources and materials and fight the bad guys, some
of whom are very sneaky. [HISS] In Creative Mode, you get
to– ready for Nicholas Cage– go nuts. The pixelated sky is the limit. You can build whatever
you want and then start a multiplayer game and
invite all your friends. You can import and export 3D
models to make structures, you can share your creations
with your coworkers and pals or your students toward the
end of teaching them the finer bits of computer science, art
history, engineering, civics, math, world history,
and maybe most things. Say what? Now, before we get to talking
about Minecraft specifically, let’s talk about computer
and video games in general as educational tools. There is a long
history of using pixels to teach kids about stuff. For as long as there have
been affordable computers there have been educational
games to put on them. Logo taught you how to program
that turtle and Lemonade Stand taught you how to build
your lemonade empire. Oregon Trail taught you
always ford the river. Never ford the river. Mavis Beacon, Reader Rabbit,
Big Brain Academy– the list goes on. They’re all great games
but they all share a common problematic
shortcoming– what if you don’t want to
teach typing or reading? Sure, you could use virtual
you to teach management or Zapitalism to teach economics
or Roller Coaster Tycoon to teach roller
coastering, but these games can’t be specialized
or made immersing. They lack even the
basic technology for fluidity or improvisation–
two things which are paramount in teaching. Like what if you want the game
to be different every year or every class, or
collaborative, or portable? Or what if you’re a
grade school teacher and you have to teach 10
subjects, each with many units and ideas to cover? If only there were
some way to build a fully customizable
networked environment that was both fun
and inexpensive. Aside from being an
exceptionally effective way to avoid doing your
homework, as it turns out, Minecraft is also an
exceptionally effective teaching tool. Sorry if I just totally
ruined Minecraft for you. Probability, build a
random animal dropper. Physics, measure the time it
takes a block to fall and then talk about gravity. You can build Minecraft versions
of famous bits of architecture or sets for Shakespearean plays. You can place works of art
inside of a Minecraft gallery or use Minecraft
mathematically ideal blocks to talk about volume and area. Teach a foreign language
with in games signs or tell kids they
can only communicate with each other on
a collaborative task in– I don’t know– Latvian. The possibilities of what you
can get into and out of a game which you thought was just for
punching trees are endless. And kids respond because it’s
a creative, collaborative, entertaining
environment where they are in control of their own
challenges, which can be many. There’s something like
1,000 Minecraft mods for all kinds of things. Like Computer Craft is
a mod which lets people right Lua programs
inside Minecraft. There is even– are you ready–
an official Mojang-licensed version of Minecraft for
education called Spearheaded by Joe Levin,
aka Minecraft Teacher, is
to Minecraft what the teacher addition
is to your history textbook– except cooler. With 20 installs at over 1,000
schools across six continents, the number of students currently
learning with alone is at least 20,000. Now, am I saying
that we’re going to see Minecraft, or even
video games in general, in every classroom? Probably unlikely. Setting up this kind of thing
requires a certain investment in technology, time on
the part of the teachers, and a certain
technical proficiency, which– I mean we all know the
chance a piece of technology will fail is directly
proportional to the number of people watching
it in operation. But should we hope
to eventually? I say absolutely. Studies have confidently
stated things like, data analysis shows that
classes using the game had significantly higher
means than classes not using the game. Source in the description. And the number of
teachers documenting their overwhelmingly positive
experience using Minecraft in the classroom is huge. Another source in
the description. So the question might
not be whether or not we use games in schools, but
rather, how far do we go go? Game designer and
advocate Jane McGonigal thinks that we should
go all the way. In her book,
“Reality is Broken,” she describes a school
which does not use games but is a game. She writes, every course, every
activity, every assignment, every moment of
instruction and assessment would be designed by borrowing
key mechanics and participation strategies from the most
engaging multiplayer games. Admittedly, we’re probably
pretty far from that point, but as video games continue
their search for legitimacy as forms of entertainment,
artwork, containers for narrative, and
now educational tools, Minecraft’s use in the classroom
is a pretty important step. A hugely popular game
made for entertainment used by a small but
growing number of teachers to show that game-based
learning is, in fact, worth its weight in obsidian. And who knows–
maybe someday there will be a Minecraft University. What do you guys think? Are video games the
future of learning? Let us know in the comments. And you should mine this block
to subscribe– mine it up. Get your mine on. I got my eyes on you. Let’s see what you
guys had to say about surveillance and meteors. To cagammon, actually
a funny story– I know the kid who
was in that movie and I bought Josh Harris
a loaf of bread once. It was a little weird. I hope no one prematurely
transported their house to the medium out of fear. Sleepyjean47 and
Subultralinkphun point out that Foucault is
a really important addition to the discussion
of the panopticon. So we’ll hang out here for a
few seconds so you can check out their comments and if this is
something you’re interested in, check out some Foucault. To coreydm676, uh,
we actually– we filmed this a couple of weeks
ago because of some travel and I think if we made it this
week Google Glass would feature prominently in the discussion of
the growing number of cameras, might even the episode entirely. SoldierBobMcBob points
out that, uh, it was a meteor and not a meteorite
and that I got the size wrong. So thank you for
that correction. Quixotic1018
questions what privacy even is in an age where
people are constantly sharing their locations
and ideas and opinions. Um, and yeah, I mean it’s true. There is sort of this
fluid idea of privacy, but it’s also something
that you are actively doing, as opposed to something that is
happening around you or to you. But yeah, it’s a–
it’s an interesting– it’s an interesting
thing that’s happening. R. Lance Hunter talks about
sousveillance and Steve Mann, whose work is great. Uh, you should Google
that if this is stuff that you’re interested in. Also, we are very
excited for the return of “Arrested Development.” To civendel, I think Shadowrun
is right about more things than they should have been. Uh, yeah. That’s kind of the
idea, actually.


  • Sam R

    YES! This is what I've been talking about and in the Teaching and Technology class I am taking at University! There is so much that we can do with video games to create amazing 21st century classrooms, ESPECIALLY with Minecraft!

  • Barbercraft

    I lead a Summer Camp at a University, due to licensing issues we are required to use MinecraftEDU and host it off Campus computers. I was a little bit unfamiliar at first. But there is really a lot of cool stuff with it! It also gets bundles with ComputerCraft not to mention most ForgeMods seem to work well with it.

  • Dummkopf

    I am in my first year of middle school. The elementary school I went to before then announces that they will be using Minecraft. GOD DANGIT!!! Well I'm not sure that the computers avalible to students would be able to handle Minecraft, so well…

  • Randy Fairfield

    Here's my latest blog in response to the YouTube video, "Is Minecraft the Ultimate Educational Tool?" #Gamification

  • abhishek onial

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    Is Minecraft the Ultimate Educational Tool? | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios

  • Darlol

    why minecraft in education is a terrible idea:
    a lot of people will lose their jobs.
    everyone will become extremely stupid because nobody reads books.
    people forget that real life exist too and play too many games and starve to death because they wanted to craft a diamond pickaxe.
    everyone gets hand injuries because they play too much and there art no doctors because they want to brew a healing potion in minecraft.

  • karl jackson

    i think its a bad idea have you seen a kid have a mental breakdown on this game i have and its not nice to see, this game should be banned because it encourages bullying makes people socially inept and incites violence to animals and people.

  • D Souza Junior jr

    ▶ Hey youtube! Working method to
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    Is Minecraft the Ultimate Educational Tool? | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios

  • Rory Mc Cann

    Minecraft is good for education and social skills as so many people play it Im ten play the game most of my friends do too and its definetely a game for everyone it is good for engineers architects and artists everyone should play Minecraft. (:

  • Gnomedic

    This was highly informative and somewhat inspiring. Thanks for making this video. I think Minecraft is an incredibly powerful tool that should be utilized in education. Even as a base game, right out of the box, you're forced to not only use critical thinking skills but also deal with resource management. With the mods out there, especially ones that allow you to script, make the game invaluable in a learning environment!

  • vandan agrawal

    I will be highly disappointed if my kids get a chance to actually play video games in school. I will be EXTREMELY JEALOUS!!

  • vandan agrawal

    I will be highly disappointed if my kids get a chance to actually play video games in school. I will be EXTREMELY JEALOUS!!

  • XxSlayerBluexX

    Of course Minecraft is a game that requires a creative mind and is a much better choice than leading education applications ( Ex. MicroType 6)!

  • Vimpmeat

    When I was in grade 6 (1993?) my home room classroom was the computer class. It was filled with commodor64 computers which we would often get a chance to play various games on. The teacher however had a PC at his desk and at some point installed the original Simcity on it which we got to play during lunch time. I was the only one already familiar with the game though since I had it at home already, so I felt kinda special.

  • Dragon Kitten

    I believe that Minecraft is a good program to teach. my brother uses it and got his first A using it. because he loves Minecraft so it helped him a lot when it came to learning.

  • Disgusting Cow

    Omg wouldn't it be awesome if a school had a certain class where everyone had a MineCraft account and the teacher taught people over MineCraft?

  • Chelsea

    I've learned so much from Minecraft.. Lol.. I never cared about social studies before I started playing Minecraft and then there I was teaching my family members about bee-lining..

  • Kajetan Czerwiński

    With obsydian more difficult to mine then 1 cubic meter of diamond, Minecraft is not going to be good education tool.

  • Raine Dash Lacatena

    I just want to say that over the years Minecraft has become more than a game. It is a game, yes, but more than that it's a world builder. Especially in recent versions, which have added the ability to not just use Minecraft as a game, but to enable the creation of games. Who here knows about Spleef, Missile Defense, and any number of the party games that have been made? Heck, they've even set up a barebones MOBA using Minecraft mechanics…if anything it's both a game and a development kit all in one!

  • Gjimz Jimenez

    im just a 11 year old kid then i already know redstone things and house layering to make minecraft houses great like adding depth into it and stuff… so is it educational?

  • Star Dragon

    Yes. But if this thing gets into my school, I can confidently say no one will give a shit about learning and just go building giant dicks or something.

  • Azza Nine

    Games only offer tangential learning benefits and provide a place to practice soft skills like spatial reasoning and sometimes logical planning. As far as being a source of knowledge, Minecraft has to be set up or modded to provide that. All it will do is add another layer to the classroom and possibly kill the reason why Minecraft is engaging.

    I play Minecraft a bit too much for what's deemed healthy, but I'd find the idea of playing Minecraft in a class setting to be a horrible boring idea (unless it was me goofing off doing my own thing, like… not learning). Minecraft's fun because you have freedom to do what you please, in a education setting the teacher needs to be able to control your attention (if you think about it we kinda teach kids against their will don't we, for their own good of course).
    Meaning for Minecraft to be an effective tool you need to remove that engaging element. You'd turn Minecraft in to a chore. You'd need things like: A method to restrict camera control and movement, control over mob spawning, player interaction to stop students punching eachother, the teacher needs a built in fun killing switch to turn Minecraft in to School.

    That's not to say the very boiled down idea of minecraft as a simulated space has no merit, but MINECRAFT as it is has very minimal value. TBH something like Garry's mod would be a better learning tool, has programming, better physics than MC, and better means for creating props. Problem with Garry's mod is that it takes a good long time to get proficient with to make effective things. But if you acquired that talent it would be way better and potent then Minecraft as an educational tool, however it still suffers the same problems I mentioned Minecraft having, which was for it to be a good teaching tool you need a "Fun kill" button.

  • Kelly Murry

    Games ARE the future of Education, and once VR becomes totally immersive, so will the educational experience.
    Thanx for the Great idea and for a great video!!

  • N8THEGR8

    I really don't think minecraft should be in schools, sure the game is kind of accurate when it comes to geology, but unless you're doing social experiments or teaching logical engineering (whatever redstone is), then I see it as a waste of time

  • ThatToasterGuy

    Old video, I know, but I thought I'd comment anyway. Gamification is not the solution to better education. What you can learn in a game like mincraft or a series like Vikings pales in comparison to an an actual informational resource. The purpose of games is always to entertain. While you can learn what diorite is from minecraft, 95% of your actual time is spent on superfluous repititive activities like mining. Yes, games have been proven to improve things like lateral thinking and hand-eye coordination, but only up to 1 hour a day, and not for teaching actual information.

  • Bunnie Chubby

    Thats why i love minecraft its like it explore my mind and my imagination and everytime i play minecraft I GOT SO CREATIVE MY IMAGINATION EXPLOAD not like art

  • Abe Jones

    Zapitalism to teach economics? You have no idea what you're talking about, what a joke. Any open ended sandbox game can potentially be the ultimate educational tool, but Minecraft doesn't have the built in tools to offer anything valid in this regard… for example governmental or financial tools. Sure you could make mods, and there have been some half assed ones, but this is an expensive process.

  • Waynne Robertson

    I'm an IT teachers and minecraft is a fad at our school. It's like crack. All the kids are into it and they don't even realize how much their learning even without any direction. With direction, they can truly build educational worlds for any subject. Best of all, is if you tell em it's homework. They spend hours researching, writing and building educational activities that others then play to learn. It's nuts man. Sad thing is the teachers who don't yet see it's potential and are stifling students with low grade clerical work day after day ???

  • bobby parker

    It's one of the best creations ever.. as good as Lego or Kinects or simple pseudo-electronic logic design.. it's awesome.

  • Juan Garza

    the government hates Minecraft in the classroom because anything that stimulates student creativity and critical thinking is a threat to the survival of capitalism..Marx said that

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