Friday, 7 March 2014

A Wild Ride.

Ok, so I am leaving Texas tomorrow morning (ridiculously early) and what an amazing adventure this trip has been. The presentation was mind blowing, we had people lining up out of the door trying to get in, they were turning people away after they jammed as many people into the room that they could. Apparently people were turned away, went for a wander around to see if there was anything else that intrigued them, then came back and took their chances in the line.

The presentation itself was great, we had mostly teachers, about 100 of them if my crowd counting was right, with 30 laptops all running MinecraftEdu. The people that attended, at least the majority, were complete beginners, had heard of Minecraft, either from students or their own children, but never set foot in the game. After a very quick 30 minute rundown by Joel and myself on what it was, what it looks like, what is possible we let them loose in the tutorial world.

With around 8 helpers roaming the room offering support where needed and answering questions things went so smoothly, if someone was stuck for more than about 2-3minutes I would be surprised. What I found very interesting, although I should have expected it, was the noise, exactly the same as a normal MinecraftEdu classroom, solid working noise, collaboration, discussion, sharing and supporting each other. So after letting them learn how to play we changed the maps available to my Animal Cell map, and the World of Humanities map. I really wanted to show the Animal Cell map because it demonstrates very clearly how different the game can look from what is default, and also the curriculum is very clear, easy to see, as it is with WoH.

I honestly believe that every teacher in that room walked away with at least some idea of how to play Minecraft, and some real good food for thought as to what is possible. There were questions from all over asking about implementation, lesson building, specific subject suggestions, it was crazy. There has been an article written about our presentation here. Our session was also recorded, audio only, for a podcast, and when/if that gets released I will share also.

Thanks for reading, and a big thanks to all those who attended or supported us in the session.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Hello From Texas.

Well, it is 4am local time in Texas, and 9pm tomorrow at home and I, of course, am wide awake. So here I sit, in my hotel room in Austin, Texas with less than 5 hours before I take to the stage with Joel Levin (aka The Minecraft Teacher) to talk to teachers about MinecraftEdu in their classes. So I should be asleep, I think I have slept a total of 10 or so hours over the last 3 days, but I am just too excited. I just went through my final checks of the maps we are getting the teachers to join tomorrow to make sure they are working.

Meeting, in real life, the people I have been working with for the last 2 and a half years has been an experience. Having never been out of Australia before, even getting 'off that rock' as Shane would say has been an experience. It is certainly different to be the one that sounds weird, I am normally the one laughing at the accents of others, instead I have people laughing at me. Which of course is par for the course, I would expect no less, just an interesting point.

This post is going to be pretty much useless in terms of Minecraft/Education content, so feel free to stop reading now, it is basically going to be a brain dump of some of the things I have noticed on this trip so far. America is just different, apart from driving on the wrong side of the car, and the wrong side of the road, which I have got to say freaks me out every time we turn a corner as there are cars where I think we should be going. There are just some other minor differences, some of which I managed to put my finger on yesterday that just make it feel different to home.

The colours of the houses is 'wrong' now this might seem silly, but never before had I really thought that the colour of the houses would be something that would just make me feel like I was not at home. The colours of the rocks and bricks used to make the houses here lacks the 'red' of Australia, it is all browns here, no real red bricks at all. The reason I am mentioning this is because it had really never crossed my mind that the materials around you, particularly the materials for buildings, are 'local' and that they have a local flavour to them, that when missing, is noticeable.

The other thing that I pinpointed that made me feel like I was not home was the trees, the leaves are not the colours (again with the colour) or shape that they should be. I say 'should be' like where I grew up is what every place should look like, again just something I had not considered before. The trees have a different look about them that just makes them odd to me. A little perspective can go a long way, I am enjoying myself greatly and am really looking forward to sharing a bit of Aussie slang with the group I am working with in the morning.

Ok, enough blabbering, back to bed for a couple of hours more sleep if I can manage it, if you did make it this far, thanks for reading.