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Effective Pedagogy in Virtual Worlds: Minecraft, Roblox and Beyond

Change display time — Currently: Central Daylight Time (CDT) (Event time)
Location: Room 345
Experience live: All-Access Package Year-Round PD Package Virtual Lite
Watch recording: All-Access Package Year-Round PD Package Virtual Lite

Explore and create : Creation lab

Alexis Albertie  
Matthew Kreutter  
Amy Pham  
Jaye Thompson  

Kids, parents and educators alike love what Minecraft and Roblox offer as exploratory, interest-driven outlets. Learn about the unique opportunities (and challenges) that exist within a game-based classroom, from how kids can model electric circuits with Redstone to how educators can implement classroom management techniques around “griefing.”

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Recommended: Roblox, Roblox Studio (both free)
Optional: Minecraft (paid)
Topic: Games for learning & gamification
Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: Computer science, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Global Collaborator
  • Students use digital tools to connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging with them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning.
Digital Citizen
  • Students cultivate and manage their digital identity and reputation and are aware of the permanence of their actions in the digital world.
For Educators:
Designer
  • Explore and apply instructional design principles to create innovative digital learning environments that engage and support learning.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The purpose of our presentation is to highlight the unique opportunities and challenges that exist when using platforms like Minecraft or Roblox to deliver educational experiences to young adolescent learners, as well as provide concrete pedagogical strategies for supporting learners. Research has shown that online games like Minecraft and Roblox can provide engaging, social, project-based learning but questions remain as to the best way to leverage what these games have to offer the classroom. How might educators best use the video game Minecraft to provide socially-situated, hands-on learning for students? Minecraft and Roblox are platforms used extensively by Connected Camps, a non-profit organization that runs online enrichment programs for students in topics like game design, coding, paleontology, biology, astronomy, and more. Within our presentation, we will share our pedagogical approach for using Minecraft and Roblox as project-based learning environments, discuss the viability of hybrid or virtual learning through the lens of game-based projects, and provide concrete examples of some of our programs in action. Through hands-on work, participants will begin to discover how they could implement Minecraft or Roblox in their classrooms, regardless of the subject they are teaching.. We will dive into one of our Minecraft curricula, exploring the power of Redstone (programmable blocks) and its wide range of applications for learning, teaching participants not only how to create their very own roller coasters in Minecraft but also how to consistently incorporate “a-ha!” moments in their own pedagogical practices.

Outline

5 minutes: Introduction
10 minutes: Presentation on Minecraft and Roblox as teaching tools
20 minutes: Deep dive into Roblox - Coding in Lua
20 minutes: Deep dive into Minecraft - Redstone rollercoaster
5 minutes: Closing & Questions

Within the first 15 minutes of our presentation, we will discuss the backgrounds of each of our presenters. After that, we will explore what it means to have Minecraft or Roblox be at the center of classroom learning - not just an “extra tool” for occasional use. We’ll talk about the benefits and drawbacks of each platform as they relate to prosocial, project-based learning rooted in student interest, leading us into a conversation about best practices for virtual learning environments. After our core presentation, we’ll shift gears and go into 40 minutes of hands-on learning. The first half will focus on Roblox and Roblox Studio, where we’ll crowdsource ideas and mechanics from the audience to build our very own Roblox game. At the end, we’ll host the game and members of the audience will have the opportunity to hop in and explore what we’ve created as a group. The second half will involve a deeper look into Minecraft’s Redstone mechanic and how it simulates electrical current. We understand that it may not be possible for every attendee to have access to a paid Minecraft account, but those who do will be able to join us on our own custom server to learn how to build a Redstone roller coaster. Regardless of whether audience members are able to follow along on their own devices, we’ll be fostering active peer-to-peer interaction around what it means to “grief” someone’s build, how to be safe when sharing content in a virtual world, and what the future holds for learners in a post-Covid educational landscape.

Supporting research

Salen, K., Jagannath, K. “Minecraft and Socially Situated Student Learning.” Seelow, D., Editor. Eye on Education series, Routledge, . 2021.

https://connectedlearning.uci.edu/blog/moderating-minecraft-embedding-social-supports-for-tween-online-wellbeing/

Salen, K. “Game-like Learning: Leveraging the Qualities of Game Design and Play.” Postsecondary Play: The Role of Games and Social Media in Higher Education. Edited by William G. Tierney, Zoë B. Corwin, Tracy Fullerton, and Gisele Ragusa. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.

Sean C. Duncan. 2011. Minecraft, beyond construction and survival. Well Played: a Journal on Video Games, Value and Meaning 1, 1 (2011), 1–22.

Slovak, P., Salen, K., Ta, S., Fitzpatrick, G. “Mediating Conflicts in Minecraft: Empowering Learning in Online Multiplayer Games,” ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2018. Paper 595, p. 1-17.

James Paul Gee. 2003. What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. Computers in Entertainment 1, 1 (Oct. 2003), 20.

https://clalliance.org/blog/reflections-on-a-decade-of-engaged-scholarship-the-final-report-from-the-connected-learning-research-network/

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Presenters

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Alexis Albertie, Connected Camps

As a classroom teacher for five years before transitioning into the Counselor Manager role with Connected Camps, Alexis spent three years in the classroom pre-Covid and two years remote and hybrid learning during Covid lockdowns. Alexis has a B.S. in Educational Psychology, M.A. in Creative and Innovative Education, and Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design and Technology. With teaching experience in Baton Rouge and Atlanta, Alexis brings a powerful perspective to the conversation about student diversity and achievement in online STEAM learning - an area that has historically had barriers, both from a physical technology perspective as well as from an professional accessibility lens.

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Matthew Kreutter, Connected Camps

Matthew started his career in education as a Teach for America corps member in St. Louis. He now works as a Product Manager for Connected Camps (www.connectedcamps.com), promoting the growth of their prosocial, interest-based learning programs offered through Minecraft and Roblox. Matthew is an avid gaming, tech, and education enthusiast, and he hopes to expand equitable opportunities for students to participate in learning experiences that blend all three!

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Amy Pham, Connected Camps
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Jaye Thompson, Connected Camps

Connected Camps

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