Thursday, 19 September 2013

Collaboration, Questions, Maths and Cells.

As you can probably tell by the post title, this is going to be about a lot of things. I have been needing to write a blog post on what I have been up to, but unfortunately I have not had the time before now.


I have a couple of things to talk about here, first is the first 'open' time on the MCEdu server where we had people coming in, either to tour, explore, learn or build. It was amazing, and a big thanks to everyone who took the time to drop by. We had abilities ranging from first timers to seasoned veterans and the sharing of ideas was great to hear. There will be more of these so if you are interested head over to the google group for the details on how to get online. Unfortunately you must have MinecraftEdu to be a part of it, as it is a collaborative/training server for teachers.


The second thing to discuss to do with collaboration also ties into the questions and maths parts as well. I have been working closely with another teacher on a setup that allows students to answer multiple choice questions in MinecraftEdu, in a much simpler way than my 21 questions map. It uses the command blocks and the scoreboard system in ways I had not even dreamt of. Working with Shane on the implementation of a question/answer system has opened up a massive amount of possibilities for gathering information from students, getting students to collaborate, making testing a bit more enjoyable and even being able to immediately give feedback to students as to whether they got the answer correct or incorrect.

With a bit more time spent it would also allow teachers to give immediate formative feedback that ties directly to the answer the students gave, if incorrect, it could quite easily provide corrective suggestions to the students and allow them to then do similar questions to prove they have fixed the issue or their misconception. I am amazed at the power we have unlocked by learning about the command blocks to implement this, ranging from doors that will not open unless you meet certain criteria to tagging students for teleportation.


Now the reason Shane and I have been designing this is because I wanted to be able to give the students some form of 'test' in-game on their integer knowledge, but to make it much more fun. So while getting students to use integers to work out coordinates for a treasure hunt, there were also question stations where students commit to an answer for an integer based question and immediately get told whether they were correct or incorrect. If they get the answer correct they receive a diamond reward and then go to a new question to answer, if they get it incorrect they miss the diamond reward and go to the next question. This is where all of my time has been spent over the last week or so, designing, tweaking and implementing the question system into a treasure hunt map.

What is really interesting is that students did not really understand the questions, and this is something I will work on for future maps. I am not sure whether students didn't understand the question or whether they did not understand the form of the questions. Being the first really 'new' thing I have done for a while I clearly have a fair few things to work on before I do this again. Or before we continue with the treasure hunt after a 2 week holiday break.


The animal cell map was also run again today, and I am still really impressed with how it turned out. For the hour or so the students were working through it, my room was pretty much absolutely silent, and while it is a small group of students it is still a pretty sure sign of engagement and just adds another point of access for information for my students in a different way.

I think that is enough of a post for now, thanks for reading, I will be putting my integer treasure hunt map up for download once I have tweaked it after the feedback from students today, and the 'guts' of it is on the MCEdu server to explore if you want to. Once I have stabilised the answer system and am sure it is 'bullet proof' I will also be putting that schematic up for download on the google group also.

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