A Minecraft build can be used to teach almost any subject, Concordia researchers say

Familiar Concepts, New Learning

The students adapted quickly to their unique classroom and wasted little time adapting to their new learning environment. Some took the time to teach their peers unfamiliar with the game, providing instructions on how to mine resources, build houses, plant food, and survive waves of swarms. hostile zombie and skeleton attacks. Others, who generally did not identify as born leaders, found themselves answering questions and providing advice due to their mastery of the game.

The students eventually decided on group projects that would be created in the Minecraft world and addressed the issues of modernity addressed in Wershler’s half-hour podcast lectures and readings. A group tried to recreate Moshe Safdie’s futuristic Housing 67which, notes Wershler, fits perfectly into Minecraft aesthetic. Another group built an entire working town (populated by Minecraft villagers) modeled after the Nakagin Capsule Tower Building in Tokyo.

Rather than using the Creative mode that many educators prefer, the game was set to the more difficult Survival mode, so students were often killed by marauding enemies. The researchers uploaded fan-made mods to improve the game as they saw fit. but the mods also made the gameplay more wonky and more likely to crash at inopportune times.

“It was important that the game remained a game and that while the students were working on their projects, there were all these horrible things coming out of the desert to kill them,” says Wershler. “It gets them thinking that what they’re doing takes effort and the possibility of failure is very real.”

An adaptable construction

He admits to having been pleasantly surprised by the way his students adapted to the parameters of the course he co-designed with a dozen other interdisciplinary researchers at Concordia. Wershler uses Minecraft in his course since 2014, but he found that this approach created scaffolding for a new style of teaching.

“Educators at the high school, college, and university levels can use these principles and tools to teach a wide variety of in-game topics,” he says. “There’s no reason why we can’t do that with architecture, design, engineering, computer science as well as history, cultural studies or sociology. There are countless ways to structure this to make it work.

Read the quoted article:The allegorical construction. Minecraft and allegorical play in undergraduate education.”