Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of talking Minecraft with my two GamingEdu pals, Diana Maliszewski and Denise Colby and many, many fantastic educators at the ECOO 2012 conference. We were there presenting our talk: Playing with TNT and Other Lessons from Minecraft. It was designed to be a look back at the successes and challenges of last year’s Multi-School Minecraft Server project. It ended up being a loud, packed, energetic Minecraft gaming session and it couldn’t have gone better.
The fun started 15 minutes before we were set to start. I opened the doors to our conference room to see five girls, eagerly clutching ECOO programs.
“Is this the Minecraft session?” they asked.
I had no idea there’d be kids at a teacher’s conference but I welcomed them in and quickly found out they were BIG Minecraft fans. Denise, Diana and I knew we wanted teachers to have a chance to play the game during our talk, so we had laptops set up on the table at the front and connected to our GamingEdus server. I invited the girls to play and within minutes they were smashing bricks and riding the trains that connect our starting area.
As teachers drifted into the room, the first thing they saw was Minecraft in action with real students at the controls, all projected on to the large screen at the front of the room. We couldn’t have created a better welcoming atmosphere if we tried. And thats not counting the fact Diana was running around the conference dressed as a creeper inviting people to our session – brilliant!
The room was packed by starting time, with people even standing at the back. It was great to see so many educators curious about using games in the classroom.
We kicked off the session and jumped into the how’s and why’s of using Minecraft and the Multi-School Server project. Check out the slides for all the details on that. For me, the best part of the session was when we stopped talking and asked if people wanted to come play on our server. The answer was a definite yes.
People came up front and started running around our server. I did some running too, busily handing out guest accounts to people with laptops. Others were downloading the Minecraft Pocket Edition for their Ipads. Pretty soon, the place was filled with the noise of blocks smashing and creepers blowing up. It was messy, loud and fantastic.
Then there was a call for more stories about our experience with using Minecraft in our classrooms. So, we switched back to presentation mode and talked about how our reluctant-writer students were updating their wiki pages on the weekends, how they built artifacts from the game out of found materials and basically how much we as teachers learned from this whole process.
After many questions, our hour was up. I, for one left energized and excited and ready to get this year’s Multi-School Server up and running. Thanks to my Gaming Edu colleagues, all the fantastic teachers who came out and played with us and to those students who showed up and showed us teachers why video games rock.
If you’re a teacher and you’re interested in learning more about our Minecraft servers, visit us at gamingedus.org and request to be white listed on our server. We’d be happy to play and learn with you!
In the meantime, you can check out the slides from our talk below.
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