Minecraft – the new wave in education | Sunday Observer

Minecraft – the new wave in education

26 November, 2017

What do video games have to do with learning? Actually, it can do everything. Minecraft, one of the biggest games of all time is used in classrooms around the world today. Children are learning at schools worldwide by playing a video game. It will be really great if the Ministry of Education implements a Minecraft Education Edition in Sri Lankan schools. Neal Manegold, Director, Minecraft Education, started as a teacher before joining the Microsoft team to focus on this unique project called Minecraft: Education Edition.

Manegold said, “Minecraft Education is shifting the way our students are learning in classrooms around the world. This Edition is an open-world game that promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving in an immersive environment where the only limit is your imagination. Minecraft can keep kids engaged while teachers use it to explore other subjects. Educators will have to build out worlds that connect with whatever they are teaching, be it a setting in a book or a historic structure. In one example on the game’s website, an enormous blocky model of the human eye has been made, meant for students to venture inside of it to see how it works.”

It was announced at the Bett Asia 2017 summit which concluded recently that a new Minecraft Hour of Code Tutorial, Hero’s Journey, has been released as part of its ongoing support for Hour of Code. This is the third consecutive year that Microsoft is supporting this global movement, held between December 4-10, 2017 to help students learn the basics of coding. Working with Minecraft game designers, computer science educators, and Code.org’s learning designers, the new Minecraft tutorial introduces coding concepts using the popular video game that millions of players around the world are already exploring, teaching, and learning with, everyday.

To date, nearly 70 million people around the world are using Minecraft tutorials to learn about the basics of coding. A new character, Minecraft Agent will be introduced in the tutorial, along with over 10 new challenges that teach core coding concepts like loops, debugging, and functions. Upon completing the tutorial, students can import their code into Minecraft: Education Edition for the first time ever, bringing their work to life in the game, or share their work via email, text message or social media. The tutorial will be available for free and is playable across iOS, Android and Windows platform. Microsoft also announced that the Minecraft: Education Edition has crossed over 2 million licensed users in 115 countries within a year of its launch, and more than 250 educator-created lesson plans have been developed in the community.

“Minecraft is one of the most popular games in the world as it provides endless possibilities for players to create their own realms without barriers. By bringing Minecraft to classrooms, educators can leverage on serious play to teach new concepts in a fun and engaging manner,” said Don Carlson, Director, Education, Microsoft Asia Pacific.

He said, the new Minecraft Hour of Code tutorial will assist educators to bring the concept of coding to life as students help Minecraft Agent overcome the various challenges, and is easy to execute in classrooms. “Coding as an essential skill for the 4th Industrial Revolution, The World Economic Forum has highlighted the importance of complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity as skills required for individuals to thrive in the 4th industrial revolution. As such, developing computation thinking is a key priority for education institutions today. One way to develop students’ computational thinking capabilities is through the introduction of computer science education, including coding classes,” he said.

“Coding empowers young people, giving them the tools they need to not only express themselves, but also transform the way they think critically and solve complex problems. When students use technology to create something of their own design by coding, it builds both technical skill and confidence – both of which are critical for success in the future,” added Carlson.

At Bett Asia summit, Microsoft conducted a series of training sessions through its Teacher Academy sessions for attendees to better understand the usage of Minecraft: Education Edition across curriculums, including applications within Humanities, Math, Science and the Arts. Piumi Jayasooriya, a teacher from Mahinda Rajapaksha College, Homagama who participated in the summit said, “It will be excellent if the Minecraft Education is introduced in SriLanka. It will improve the programming and coding skills of children from a very young age.”

Bett Asia 2017, the two day leadership summit and expo concluded successfully in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia recently under the continued support of Malaysia’s Ministry of Education. Officiated by YB Dato’ Seri Mahdzir bin Khalid, Minister of Education, Malaysia, it welcomed over 2,000 attendees from 40 + countries, 100 + speakers and 50 + exhibitors.

In honour of the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN, the 2017 event theme was Global Collaboration in Education, addressing key opportunities to support collaboration and improve education systems across the Asia Pacific region.

The event opened with a ministerial panel discussion on Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN) , moving towards a 21st century model for education. Esteemed panelists included Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Former Chief Inspector of Schools, Ofsted, and Senior Advisor, GEMS Education; H.E. Mme Sengdeuane Lachanthaboun, Minister of Education and Sports – Laos; and Dr. Sophon Napathorn, Vice Minister for Education - Thailand.

Highlights included a discussion on improving the traditional way of teaching, “Establishing Blended Learning Environments,” chaired by Dr. Matt Harris, Deputy Head of School for Learning Technology, British School of Jakarta, and a keynote address on ‘Education and the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ from Graham Brown-Martin, Writer, Broadcaster, and Educator and Founder of Learning Without Frontiers (UK).

Worldwide partner Microsoft hosted an exciting lineup of activities including a keynote session from Anthony Salcito, Vice President – Worldwide Education, Microsoft USA on ‘Digital transformation in Learning, device demos, partner solutions, the passport adventure competition, and the Microsoft School Leaders and the Teachers Academy.

The UK Pavilion hosted by annual event partner, the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT), was a highlight of the 2017 Expo, and The Great British Classroom, showcased live lessons in the interactive classroom environment.