Friday, 13 December 2013

One Last Hurrah!

Not forever, just for this year of classes. All of my formal classes have ended, we have been doing 'headstart' programs getting students ready for next year, and today begins our 'summer program' where we do activities and more relaxed fun things with the students who still remain.

So today it is the Science faculty's turn to do activities, for 90 minutes later today we will have the students and we can run what ever activities we want, they don't even have to be about science. But me being me, I want to do some interesting science type activities. Well maybe not science as such, but computer science. It is computer science week after all, and I always wanted to do some thing to do with hour of code..... so what better opportunity to get students thinking about coding and computer science.

Enter ComputerCraftEdu. Later today, for the first time I will be picking up a map someone else has made and getting students to 'do' it. I am talking about a ComputerCraftEdu coding challenge map made by Shane, which I think is also based off a world made by Mike Harvey, both are great contributors to the google group and are much more advanced in CCEdu than myself.

I am really excited to get students into the world and trying to complete challenges, none of which should be above their ability, particularly with the visual programming that CCEdu provides. Shane is going to Skype in and join the world with the students I think to get an idea of what is happening. He has already run the world a couple of times with his students, and is currently making alterations to it before he sends the most recent version to me to use later today.

But I am also really nervous. I probably shouldn't be, but there are a couple of reasons I am nervous, one, as mentioned I normally don't just get other peoples worlds and run them without at least some exploration, that is good practice. But I am deliberately doing it this time, to see if it is actually viable to just run with a map/lesson that someone else has created, with no pre-work. It seems that there are a few teachers beginning to join the community who want to do just that, take maps made by others and just use them, not explore themselves, but just let students in and the lesson should run itself.

So is this viable, will it work? We have been doing some testing of the online templates area of MinecraftEdu, so I want to know what teachers need in our maps to make this happen. What supportive materials do they need to ensure that even if they don't want to explore the world first, they have enough of an understanding to make the lesson a success for both themselves and their students.

The second reason I am nervous is because I am actually not going to be the 'main' teacher in the room, I have 2 staff that I will be assisting with their activities, one being the CCEdu activity, the other being a Lego robot activity where I have programmed the 'bricks' and students are tasked with building the robots around them. Of course they have instructions to help, but I was planning on moving between the 2 rooms to help out where I could and get the students thinking in some different ways.

So realistically both activities could go completely awry, I don't think they will, but there is the possibility. Both teachers supporting me do not have enough of an understanding of the 'systems' we are using to 'fix it' if things do go in the wrong direction. So why do it? Again, more information gathering to see if picking up Minecraft (and Lego), with no experience and trying to use it for a specific purpose/lesson/activity will actually work.

So I will probably have some thoughts to share later, but before I close out this post, I will say, the next update of MinecraftEdu that the guys are working on now, and we are testing as much as possible, is amazing. A few new features that will make things a lot easier for everyone involved (hopefully) and for the first update in a while I might actually get to record a feature video and share. My poor EduElfie youtube channel is feeling a bit neglected but hopefully soon I can get back into sharing some of the features, tutorials and maps with everyone again.

As always thanks for reading, leave a comment below if you feel like it and there should be another post later.

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