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Teacher’s Guide to setting up a Minecraft server at your school

In early 2011, I set up a small multi-player Minecraft server in my school library, using school computers. In early 2012, I set up a second multi-player Minecraft server as part of our much larger Multi-School Minecraft Server Project, a single server hosting 30 students from 3 schools. Since then, I’ve had many teachers ask me: “How do you set up a Minecraft server at your school?” This post will hopefully answer that question.

Before I start, a caveat: In 2011, the only other people usingĀ  Minecraft at school that I knew of were: Lucas Gillespe and Joel Levin. There wasn’t much out there specifically for educators, so I fumbled along and cobbled together a method to set up a Minecraft server at school. This is by no means the correct way, or the only way. It’s just the way I did it.

There is tons of info and videos online on how to set up general Minecraft server. It’s essential reading, so get started here. This post will address some specific concerns with if you want to set up a Minecraft server at a school.

Getting Started: The Basics

To get started you need:

  • A dedicated computer to run the Minecraft server software (found here) and host the virtual world your students will play in
  • Minecraft accounts for each of your students
  • The ability for each students computer to connect directly to the server computer
  • That’s it! Getting all that to work on your school computers depends on your board’s IT policies, the age of your library computers and your own admin privileges on the school computers.

Two Paths to Setting up a Minecraft Server at Your School

As with many things that are new, untested and uncharted, the old adage: “It’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask permission” works here. I’ve done it both ways. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. The choice is yours.

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Power Play nominated for 2012 Diamond Willow Award

I’m wearing many hats these days: teacher, librarian, video games and learning advocate and finally humble writer. Over at my blog, feeding change, I write my education / “video games aren’t evil” posts. Here at my main page, I like to stick to talking about my writing. And so, it is with great pleasure that I announce Power Play is nominated for a 2012 Diamond Willow Award!

The Willow Awards are Saskatchewan’s “Tree Awards”, part of the provincial children’s book awards started (I believe) by Ontario’s Silver Birch Awards. This is my second Tree nomination, the first happening in Halifax with Wild Ride nominated for a 2009 Hakamatack Children’s Choice Award. I was especially honoured back then and I am extremely especially honoured today.

Extremely especially? Yeah, I know, but here’s the deal: Unlike other awards, sponsored by a big bank with the winner chosen by a bunch of adults and then a lump sum of cash given to the winner (and used as a tax write/PR campaign off by the sponsoring bank), the winners of the Tree Awards are chosen by kids! Thousands of them, all reading, discussion and (hopefully) voting for your book.

Currently, I’m running the Silver Birch Club at my school and, let me tell you, it’s amazing to see kids reading, debating and sharing their passion or distaste for a particular book. I don’t need to tell you that young readers won’t think twice about explaining why a book is totally awesome or totally lame. They are your biggest supporters or your harshest critics. It’s always amazing to see.

The second great part about the Tree Awards is that every book nominated is the winner. A nomination means your book will reach hundreds of new readers who might never have heard of you before. For any writer, that is a prize worth more than any statue, plaque or cheque. (Okay, the cheque is nice too.)

Thanks to Orca Books for being such an amazing publisher and epic thanks and grats to Mike Deas for his uber cool illustrations on this whole series. And while we’re talking Mike, check out his new graphic novel series starring two lovable and totally lost aliens: Dalen and Gole. Two words: Hi larious.

Please check out all the 2012 Diamond Willow nominees. I am honoured to be in such fine company.