Games-Based Learning: Massively MineCraft Open Day (in which I learn to fly)

I recently attended an online Open Day on Massively Minecraft. It was probably the steepest learning curve I’ve encountered in a while, perhaps since primary school, honest! And here is what I learned.

Massively Minecraft (MM) is a guild or ‘ learning community  for kids and their parents – exploring how to live, work and play in MineCraft.'(MM site)  It had been recommended to me by several colleagues in my PLN as an excellent working model of an educational  private-server community for Minecraft. I was very impressed with MM’s website as I had a look around before the big day. My colleagues were right MM is an excellent model. Here are some things I hadn’t thought of but will definitely adopt:

  1. Their server is a white-listed site. This means they have a set of conditions that users must agree to before they can join and they must fill out an application form.
  2. They have a community charter which was developed by the users (kids) and outlines the community’s rules of engagement. They set the culture and tone of the site and are mostly digital citizenship rules.
  3. The site uses a subtle incentive scheme called Ranks. As MM users demonstrate their willingness to be good citizens online and improve their skills and real estate, they can level-up or climb the ranks. Levelling up gives access to further powers, resources and other areas or worlds.
  4. The site offers forums for users to discuss, share their achievements, and ask questions. These all looked very positive in nature and you get a real sense of community happening from reading them. I also liked that the administrators include and seek input from the users on how the community runs.

So after reading all of this I am excited but starting to realize the size of the commitment in starting up a private server group. (I’m going to definitely need more teacher interest in order to share the love! and the moderation).

As the day/time for the Open Day draws near, I open an account with MineCraft and my older son and Miner Extraordinaire tries to give me a primer on the commands. I find I can’t even walk around properly. Oh dear, this is like kindergarten! Besides just the regular WASD commands (apparently similar in most games) MM has a commands list for their ranks.

When the Open Day starts, I log-in and I am assigned a tour guide to show me around. I did feel sorry for him as I was completely overwhelmed by having to walk, look, read and talk at the same time. There were so many other people on as well that I had a hard time keeping track of my guide in both the dialogue box and in the world. He took me to his mine, past some giant statues, showed me how to chop down trees, go through portals, and how to fly! After all that he got the admin to give me my own temporary spot in the world and permission to try building something then left me to experiment. I tried building a little house (pretty sad effort) and then decided just to wander/wonder around, play tourist. The part that impressed me most? Probably the big hall you first land in with the charter up on all the walls, but there were lots creative efforts happening out in the general community – castles, gardens, fountains, parks …

The experience was truly one of being on the border of a new frontier, a settler in a foreign land. My skills were low, my motivation high and the possibilities (from what I’d seen) endless. I now understand the attraction of playing this game, am in awe of the dedication and effort some of these kids put into their guild. the richness of it is obvious – MM even spells out the educational advantages of it (scroll down the link page to find Massively EdVentures – The 12 Challenges Learning Framework). I am now even more determined to offer this opportunity to students in our school community.


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