Of all the tools available to educators today, Minecraft is fast becoming one of the most useful. It may seem strange that we say that from a video game, but it is the case. Put aside the popularity of Minecraft, which has sold over 200 million copies, and you will find a game that immensely appeals to today’s youth.
That singular nugget, the commitment to youth, has allowed it to become a tool that helps educators teach students about things like leadership, organization, physics, agriculture, and more.
One of the reasons that Minecraft and its various versions work so well as educational tools is because it is not an artificial game-based educational tool. Too often, students recognize when game-based educational tools only have a game veneer on top of educational tools. They see through this right away and therefore they don’t get as involved.
Educating in Minecraft is the opposite of that. Simply by adopting a already popular Play and using it as a tool to impart knowledge, students are more engaged and learn more.
Here is an example. This spring, NASEF (the nonprofit Scholastic Esports Federation of North America) partnered with the US Department of State for an event called Farmcraft. The students were challenged to grow crops under certain circumstances and competed with each other to see who could grow the most. Minecraft already has farm elements and NASEF maximized those with some customizations, making Farmcraft a perfect educational tool. While not everything was carried over from the fantasy world of Minecraft to the real-world farming equivalents, many of the real-world decisions that farmers must make were carried over into the game in this mod.
Throughout the challenge, students learned how to manage agriculture, including crop selection (organic or genetically modified crops), fertilization, pest control, water, soil quality, and budgeting. They applied critical thinking to analyze and solve problems.