Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Somewhat a Beginners Map

I have been working on a new map, to introduce Minecraft 'players' to the EE specific blocks and items, how to interact with them and what impacts they can have on their experience. This map was supposed to take only a couple of hours to make after the initial planning, and in normal me form, I need it by Thursday this week.

So I spent about 4 hours streaming the planning, throwing ideas around and initial building. By the time I had thrown all my ideas around, I had some pretty straight forward ideas about how I wanted it to work in a classroom. Starting with some open exploration early in the class, to make sure the teacher has enough time to go around and make sure that everyone knows the basics of movement in Minecraft, or for students to help each other out, whichever way it goes.

After this open exploration, there would be a series of 3 challenges, these challenges explain, in an interactive way, what the M:EE specific blocks do, the first is an 'invisible' maze. The maze is made with border blocks below the platform and the border block particles show the paths you can and cannot take. I play tested it myself and it was really tricky, so I put in some 'sign post' blocks to help students find their way. It is not supposed to be impossible, but it is not supposed to be a straight shot either.
The invisible border maze.

Once they get to the end of the maze, students are supposed to use the camera to take a photo, or selfie with the NPC, then head down into the staging area for the next challenge. The second challenge is a mix a parkour/jumping puzzle and building puzzle, designed to show how the allow and deny blocks work.

The start of the allow/deny jump and build puzzle.

Once they get to the end of this, they head to the third challenge, which is not really a 'challenge' I guess, in the 'problem' sense, but more a task to show students how to work with NPCs when they have the /worldbuilder ability. At the conclusion of the lesson, students are to export their portfolio showing their achievements throughout the lesson for the teacher. Plus, as a bonus, since I think I am working with these students that I am meeting on Thursday a fair bit over the next little while, I will have some information about the students from the NPC "zoo".
The 30 challenge 2 platforms.

So, simple right? Wrong! Parallel play for the challenges meant that I needed to create 30 copies of challenge 2, 30 'pens' for the NPC "zoo" and work out some way to prevent, or at the very least minimise the risk of two students ending up in the same location for either challenge 2 or 3. This meant that I spent approximately 8 hours today working on commands and setting everything up so that teleporting works to the appropriate location and the appropriate abilities are afforded at each.

The NPC zoo.

I also learned today that you can easily adjust the direction that a person faces when you teleport them, through any of the 360 degrees, not just the cardinal directions. While I was messing about with that, I also learned that you can teleport 'only' people who are looking in a certain direction, which I have a feeling may mean something for future maps. I am not sure what yet, but there is an inkling of an idea that may yet prove to be quite useful.

One 'cell' in the NPC zoo.

Now all I have left is to create the 'teacher staging area' whereby any teacher can start the challenges, without my input, this should only take a couple of hours...... Oh the irony! I want to share this map on the EE site, but also with all kinds of teachers as I move forward in the rollout and support across the state. I think this map/lesson has a lot of merit, and is much more targeted at comfortable players, rather than those who have never played before.

This has been on my mind, since now the statistics in my very small sample have shifted from 1 or 2 in a class having played before, to 1 or 2 in a class not having played before. The old 'tutorial world' or the other activities I have run in the past to support students to learn how to move around in Minecraft just are not needed any more. But I don't think this means that students will automatically know about all the EE specific blocks and items that can change their experience in a classroom setting.

So, by going through these 3 challenges, what do students learn? If they didn't already know, they learn how to move in Minecraft. They learn what border, allow and deny blocks do. They learn how to interact with NPCs with and without /worldbuilder ability and they learn how to take pictures, and selfies and then caption and export these for their teachers. While not explicitly in the challenges, students are also exposed to all three sizes of boards, and now that I think on it, I think I might request they use at least one in their zoo decoration.

It is certainly not the prettiest build, and I am sure with some more time I could make a story to flow through it, but first I want to see how it runs as an activity in a classroom. Luckily I will be able to see how it runs in a classroom tomorrow. I have spoken to the teacher I am working with, and I am going to try and be 'hands off' observer rather than the facilitator of this lesson. I am also hoping to record some footage of the students going through the challenges for reflection

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