[Listen and learn : Panel]
Digital tote resources
Purpose & objective
Ask teachers if they would want students to be more engaged and more motivated, and you will see heads emphatically nod. Now ask them if they would be interested in using Game Based Learning (GBL) to accomplish this, and you will see fear, anxiety, or disbelief. Some educators are already interested in Game Based Learning (GBL), but don’t know where to begin. Most teachers have heard of Minecraft, through their students and/or their own children, and don’t understand what it is or why it’s so popular. As the education field attempts to address the issues of student motivation and engagement, the use of games in the classroom steps up as a viable solution. As teachers start to consider using a game like MinecraftEdu in their classes, the first question is always, “how do I use it with my curriculum and my level of students?” There is already a wealth of pre-created content available for teachers to use with MinecraftEdu, but most teachers have specific needs or want their students to be the creators of their learning artifacts, starting from scratch. This panel discussion aims to tap into the teachers’ (and other participants’) experiences and expertise to come up with ideas for applying this technology to their learning spaces. This is a just-in-time approach to helping people who are hoping to get started but don’t know how. All of the panelists are classroom teachers, trainers of teachers, and experienced presenters who have used MinecraftEdu with students and taught many teachers how to use it with their students. All hold advanced degrees in education or educational technology, and have studied and put into practice sound pedagogy focused on learner motivation and engagement.
Participants will come with questions and leave with answers. They will be given ideas as springboards to their own exploration and brainstorming, and they will also have contact information for all the panelists as well as others active in the Minecraft in Education community. They will be equipped with resources such as the MinecraftEdu Worlds Library and the “Minecraft Teachers” Google Group as well as a list of involved educators and hashtags to follow on Twitter. Even participants who do not ask questions of the panel will hear a plethora of ideas for incorporating MinecraftEdu or other Game Based Learning tools in their curricula.
Introduction: Each presenter will introduce him/herself by sharing their background, educational preparation, current role in education, and a favorite curricular application of MinecraftEdu (including subject area and grade level).
Soliciting questions: (a majority of the time) The presenters will welcome questions from the audience focused primarily on how MinecraftEdu could be used with students in specific subject area/grade level combinations. Since state content standards vary, the panelists may elicit further information about some of what is covered in a given teacher’s course at present.
Additional Q & A at the end: The last 15 to 20 minutes will be devoted to answering other questions audience members may have about implementing Minecraft or MinecraftEdu in a more general sense.
Panelists will also prepare some “frequently asked questions” they have received over the past several years to seed the discussion if there are not enough audience members with questions about specific curricular goals. In addition, panelists will brainstorm in advance some potential curricular questions that may come up so they can be better prepared to give ideas and examples. There will be resources provided with links to pre-created content for MinecraftEdu as well as discussion forums and other online resources participants can access afterward to assist them in their own planning and implementation.
Due to this being a panel discussion, it’s hard to know exactly how things will play out until the actual day, but the panelists will be prepared for anything Minecraft-related.
The work of Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and James Paul Gee extensively addresses the concepts of flow as it relates to motivation and the use of games, especially video games, in classroom settings to achieve increased engagement, motivation, and perseverance.
Miguel de Aguilera and Alfonso Mendiz, in their 2003 article “Video Games in Education: (Education in the Face of a “Parallel School”), brought to light the use of games in learning in ways many people had not considered before. This helped solidify their role in problem solving, creative thinking, and collaboration, in addition to the use of simulation-type games for mastery of content knowledge and skills by such users as doctors, NASA and other scientists, the military, and a number of Fortune 500 businesses. The use of games in classrooms has been linked to improved deductive reasoning and decision making.
James Paul Gee, in 2003, described how games stretch students to the edge of their learning capability. He said that games are a constant assessment of student understanding, and that by repeatedly playing games, learners can create a cycle of expertise.
In 2005, Kurt Squire asserted that recursive play allows a student’s thinking to become more complex; play is vital in testing new ideas, developing new skills, and participating in new social roles.
Merrilea J. Mayo suggested in 2007 that games in science and engineering education could be the cure to huge classes of students in lecture settings. They are the latest in highly effective experiential learning methods such as field trips and outdoor education experiences, all without having to actually leave the classroom. Games encourage inquiry when students feel safe asking, and experimenting to find the answer to questions such as “what happens when I do this?” Mayo also pointed to games as effective tools for self-efficacy, goal setting, cooperation, continuous feedback, and tailored instruction.