Building a New World in Education: Exploring Minecraft for Learning, Teaching and Assessment
Minecraft is a ‘sandbox’ video game first released to the public in 2009, where players control virtual avatar in a Lego-like world made up of blocks that can be moved to construct buildings and used to create items and structures. It is currently the second most popular video game of all time, with more than 100,000,000 copies sold worldwide. Schools in many countries, including the United States and Sweden, have decided to integrate the educational version of the game (Minecraft: Education Edition) into their curricula. Minecraft: Education Edition is a platform that allows students to freely explore, imagine and create in virtual environments and collaborative worlds that have special features specifically designed for classroom use. In DCU, the Institute of Education (IoE) has a dedicated Minecraft Studio (opened in December 2018) that student teachers can use to explore how innovative virtual and physical learning spaces can transform the curriculum and engage young people with new educational environments.
In November 2021, a white paper entitled ‘Building a New World in Education: Exploring Minecraft for Learning, Teaching and Assessment’ was published. This paper was a collaborative effort between CARPE, DCU School of STEM Education, Innovation and Global Studies, and Microsoft Ireland. The report finds that Minecraft: Education Edition can support the development of digital skills with groups of neurodiverse learners and can also greatly help young people to develop 21st century skills such as problem solving and collaboration through project-based learning. It also provides recommendations for the future to advance the evidence base. The research team are now working on better understanding how this tool can be deployed in Irish primary classrooms as part of the Ireland’s Future is MINE initiative which is a joint initiative between Microsoft Dream SpaceTM and RTÉjr involving the use of Minecraft: Education Edition as an educational tool to engage school communities across the island of Ireland.