This sandbox block building game has been rated at the 3rd popular game of all time (after Tetris & Wii Sports). And it's making great inroads into education.
What Is Minecraft
This 1 minute video will give you a good idea of what your students are doing with Minecraft, sometimes described as the world's biggest sandbox.
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This site outlines some of the ways Minecraft is being used in schools. It has been used in everything from science and literature to architecture and interactive stories. Find tutorials and lesson plans here.
As anyone who has played the game knows, Minecraft comes with minimal instructions or tutorials.
Brecht Vandenbroucke explains in detail how new players immediately set about hunting for info on how it works. That means students poring over how-to texts at Minecraft wikis and "walk-through" sites and young kids digging into printed manuals written for students from grade 8 to grade 11.
A good resource for teachers as well, Fabrizio Ferri-Benedetti explains Minecraft and how parents can get involved in Minecraft with their kids.
MineMum is a site for families who are new to Minecraft, have a ton of questions and would like to get answers from another parent. It's also for people who want to understand what their kids are talking about, need ideas for Minecraft-themed activities, or want to use the game for learning. Includes a glossary of terms.
Code.org's 2015 third annual Hour of Code includes this Minecraft module in partnership with Microsoft. It's part of their worldwide campaign that tries to demystify code by teaching the basics of computer science in just an hour.
Students tackle a series of 14 coding challenges, including some free play time so they can take the coding tactics they learn and explore the Minecraft world with code.
Instead of typing in text, kids six and up can use a tool called Blockly, a Google project that represents lines of code as blocks, making it easier to visualize how commands and loops and logic statements fit together.
Minecraft in education
A quick overview of how Minecraft can be used in the classroom, and an invitation for teachers to join the conversation. Minecraft can be a stepping stone to what the future of education will look like.
Best quote: "I [the teacher] don't know a lot about this technology, but you do. What I know a lot about is what you need to learn. ... Sometimes the students are learning from the teachers. Sometimes the teachers are learning from the students."
Right now, everyone is learning.
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While there are lots of places where you can download "demo" copies of Minecraft, many of dubious quality, here's the correct way to do it.
The demo mode requires you to register and provide an e-mail address, but does not require a credit card or other payment.
Once Minecraft has been downloaded and installed, you can play the game for about 100 minutes or five Minecraft days.
When your time is up (or you are hopelessly confused), you can [Reset Demo World] and play again, as many times as you want.
This How-To Geek guide shows step-by-step how to get Minecraft running on your computer.
This tutorial can give you an idea of what Minecraft is all about. It's as much an environment as a game, one where one can learn and have fun at their own pace.
Nothing is more frustrating than getting Minecraft installed and running, and then realizing that you have no idea how to move. (Use the W key and space bar.) Here's a simple list of keyboard commands.
Minecraft was created by Mojang AB in Sweden in 2011. In 2014, the founders wanted to sell and move on to other projects. Microsoft purchased Minecraft for US$2.5 billion and is currently folding Minecraft into their product line.