Thursday, 3 May 2018

New Role, New Exciting Times!

I have been sitting on this for a couple of months now, for various reasons, but as of Monday this week I have officially started in my new role, and it no longer has to be kept a secret.

The Victorian Department of Education has provided Minecraft: Education Edition for free to all schools, students and staff at government schools across the whole state. Which is a huge win, and a very exciting project to be involved in. We are talking over 1500 school sites, 600,000 students and 44,000 teachers all now with access. The potential for innovation, and new exciting lessons in Minecraft is huge.

So what is my role in this. I am supporting the implementation across the state. So currently I am looking at providing PD opportunities for those just beginning, those who have dabbled, and those who are experts. I am also running specific projects within schools, with what I hope to be somewhat intensive coaching and support so that these teachers are able to continue to grow their practice.

We are also building a state-wide team of educators using Minecraft in their classrooms, so that we can all support each other, kind of like what the Global Mentor program is, but more tailored to our teachers and using local expertise.

So what does all of this mean? It means, that post a few months back where I said I was back, well, I am. Minecraft: Education Edition is now my '9 til 5' job, so producing content is well and truly back on the cards, pushing the boundaries of what we can do and teach in Minecraft is back on the cards. I have a lot of work to do building and collating resources to support our teachers in their journey, no matter where they are along it.

So, what maps are on the go I hear you asking? OK, so I didn't hear you asking, but I still want to share and feel that I haven't been able to share, because I was bound to secrecy on the new role and roll out of M:EE across the state.

The Animal Cell map is nearly complete and ready for M:EE, the teleport mechanics have all been sorted out as have the textures, the only thing I have left to do is decide on the best method for providing the 'text' in game for students to explore and reflect upon, and then of course getting the information in there. Although I have all the text from the old map, sorted and ready so that shouldn't be too onerous once I get the basics sorted.

Energy Transfer, was always a 'gonna do when I got time' map, and I am excited to say that is certainly getting there, streaming that live on Twitch from start to finish is a side goal, so work is somewhat slower than if I wasn't doing that, but I am really enjoying sharing my process, experimentation and building it live online. Even if very few people watch it :D.

The command block mechanics and such in this map are very intense, and exciting to incorporate to create what will be a 'game' where students have to try and manage the energy and molecule flow throughout a cell and try to keep everything running. From DNA synthesis, through RNA synthesis and protein production, as well as exporting enzymes and breaking down sugars.

Contour Maps, again is just about ready to go, there are a few 'starting' things to be worked out, and formal lesson plans to write ready for release on the site but the basics are all there. This will be run in a school hopefully this term with a couple of groups, so stay tuned for updates on that.

Maths in Space, is a new take on an old map/concept. A few years back I used Minecraft to help students learn percentages in the "Path to Percentage Perfection" and this newer version of that is actually an adventure type map, based in a choose your own adventure style and is actually more of an assessment of knowledge than an acquisition of knowledge map, which is something new for me and an exciting project.

Also, for the base of this map, I was able to design in a 3D design package (123d design) export that to stl, and then get it into a void world in M:EE. Which is HUGE! It also means that we now have a way of working backwards too, build in EE and export to stl for 3D printing, that is not restricted at 32x32x32 blocks. Which is also HUGE and very exciting. Speaking of which, I really should do the long promised tutorial on this.

There are a heap of mechanics I need to sort out, so this map is likely a couple of months away from being anywhere near ready for a classroom, so think 'early planning' of the story and mechanics I need to use to keep the story relevant and in the game.

Transcription and Translation, will be released for M:EE at some stage, I have to rebuild it from scratch, using the new game mechanics rather than the old CCEdu mod. The lag issues that abounded from using 300 turtles to keep an eye out for block updates should be resolved with observer blocks. I plan on building on the Resource Pack for the Animal Cell, one pack for all 3 current cell maps, and possibly more in the future as I have the ideas and time to build them.

I am also writing a 'random chance and choose your own adventure' story for my daughter. I hope to release that to the public at some stage, but that all came about because I burrowed further and further into a rabbit hole of choose your own adventure, and what that might mean for interactive maps. Getting students responding to questions in, and out of the game, while having an impact on how the story plays out, and having the Minecraft world change accordingly.

So this is a huge area of interest for me, and once I get settled into the role, and have some more time, I hope to explore this and create some highly interactive maps in this style. Think about having a companion world to a choose your own adventure book, where both work together to create a learning experience for students. A place that reading, as well as experience in the virtual world support each other and neither is fully complete without the other, and neither can you complete it fully without using both and your brains.

OK, apparently not posting for a while leads to blabbering, apologies. Hopefully I will share more on each map as I move forward, as well as sharing the progress and uptake of M:EE across the state. As always it will be a 'warts and all' approach to sharing, so keep an eye out for the successes, and the not so successes in future. Thanks for reading, feel free to leave a comment below.


  1. Awesome, dude! So exciting, and congrats on this new gig!

    1. Thanks Bob, it is great news for all those teachers and students. Really looking forward to getting some neat stuff up and running across the state.