Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Back in Greece; Teaching

I have just finished teaching for the third day at the summer school in Greece. Like last year, I am having a great time, but the kids this year are, at this stage, much more motivated to create something good. They are steaming through, learning new things as they go and implementing these things into their maps.

There are three groups creating adventure/story maps, one group creating a dropper map and another creating a mini-survival game. We did some very early testing of some of the maps today, and it is interesting how quickly the students can build the components of their maps, but forget the basics of what a map needs to be functional for people to play. So the basic things like, a starting location, with a 'start game' button, or settings panel are not there.

Others, while just beginning to explore command blocks, are forgetting things like, when teleported to a new location, like in a dropper map, you need to set the players spawn point at the top, or they go back to the start and lose all their progress. What are you scoring people on, how are you going to provide them the feedback are also things that seem to be missed.

It is interesting, and something I will be working closer with the students tomorrow in our focus session, so I need to think about what it takes for a game to be 'functional' for others and also what feedback or validation do we need as we play. Also this group of students is not anywhere near as desperate to 'play' in survival mode, we did have a foray into it yesterday, but it was a 'limited lives' group survival scenario, where we had 10 lives for the server.

We had 2 attempts, each lasting about 20-25 minutes. It is interesting to see what leadership comes out, and also what 'selfishness' comes out in these situations. I think if we keep working on it, we should be able to get to a point where survival might last over an hour in these situations, but we really need to work on our group/team work and communication skills.

I love introducing students to the 'world' of Minecraft. One student played Minecraft for the first time on Monday, unsurprisingly, he has already downloaded something similar to Minecraft on his phone, created a big tree house, with multiple layers beneath the ground. He was quite proud to show his creation to me today, and rightfully so, considering he only found out about it on Monday.

Next week while the Minecraft workshop heads into it second and final week for the 2017 summer school, I am starting a brand new project, using Factorio, to introduce students to managing resources, optimising machines and trading between groups. Which will incorporate all kinds of great skill development for the students, critical thinking, communication, leadership and many more are the key ones I am focussing on.

This Factorio project is running only for the one week, and I am really excited to delve into using Factorio in an educational setting. I feel like I did when I first started bringing Minecraft into my classroom, nervous, excited and sure that everything will work out ok in the end if I keep an open mind, be flexible, reflect on each section of the lesson and adjust as required. I contacted the developers, and they were/are super supportive and helpful in getting me up and running.

I will collate some of the images of the students work so far and post them soon, thanks, as always, for reading, I am not dead, thankfully, and have been sitting on a post about what I have been up to for the past 12 months or so in my new role for quite a few weeks, I must finish it and publish it, and I will.... one day soon. For some reason I had it stuck in my head that people only read this for what I do in Minecraft, but that is not necessarily true, despite the name of the blog. Feel free to tell me below what you enjoy reading from me, but now that I have recognised this 'block' in my own head, I should be more regularly sharing the great projects I have been a part of, how we got these up and running, the wins, and the losses, even in this non-Minecraft related journey in my new job thus far.

Of course I am still involved in the Minecraft in Education community, and am still looking for some solid opportunities to bring my passion for this into my new role. Ok, I have blabbered enough for now, look forward to images of the students creations soon and some pretty large brain dump posts next week as I begin the Factorio project. Thanks again for reading.

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