Minecraft: Sandbox learning

Minecraft is a sandbox style video game which was created by Markus ‘Notch’ Persson, a Swedish game designer, and developed by Mojang Studios. With the original edition released in 2009, Minecraft saw a massive spike in popularity in 2011. Going on to become one of the best-selling video games of all time by 2014 with Mojang Studios being acquired by Microsoft in the same year. Being a sandbox video game, Minecraft thrives off the creativity of its users. Players have the ability to interact with the world, mine and craft resources, and create from these whatever they can imagine. This deceptive simplicity encourages spatial awareness and planning skills, and the game has found particular favour with children (Spanier, 2014). This popularity, along with the open end mechanics of Minecraft’s game play, has propelled it from home computers and into the classroom.


Materials on Minecraft
Before looking into the classroom uses for Minecraft, I’d only anecdotally heard from a former co-worker that his son was part of a competition where students would use the game to create dioramas of Australian history, such as the landing of the first fleet at Botany Bay. Here are some of the topics being taught through Minecraft:
3D Printing and Design, Literacy, Digital Literacy, Circuitry (Glendening, 2016), STEM (Miller & Scott, 2018), coding, language, arts, history & culture, computer science (education.minecraft.net, n.d.) with lesson plans to be found at https://education.minecraft.net/class-resources/lessons

Plus all the social and problem solving skills that come along with task-based group work.


The benefits and possibilities of engagement and education through the use of Minecraft seem to be endless. Surely there must be a catch?


Education Packaged
If having your education controlled by a multi-billion dollar corporation like Microsoft is a problem for you, then there’s your catch. Unfortunately Minecraft is a paid program, requiring yearly licence purchases and it seems like it’s bundled in with Office 365 Education accounts. So if your school is up-to-date with the latest and greatest Office 365 Education accounts from Microsoft AND there’s enough in the budget to purchase annual licenses for the class then there’s fun times ahead. If not, you’ll have a limited number of logins. Maybe Minecraft’s greatest lesson is in classism?

Reference List

Spanier, G. (2014). Built to last: the Minecraft Model. From https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/built-last-minecraft-model-9788669.html.


Glendening, M. L. (2016). From video games to real life : Tapping into minecraft to inspire creativity and learning in the library. ProQuest Ebook Central https://ebookcentral.proquest.com.

Miller, J., & Scott, C. F. (2018). Unofficial minecraft stem lab for kids : Family-friendly projects for exploring concepts in science, technology, engineering, and math. ProQuest Ebook Central https://ebookcentral.proquest.com.

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