Can Minecraft Be an Educational Tool?
It’s no secret that kids love Minecraft. Adults love it too. Over the last 5 years, it’s become one of, if not the most popular game of all time. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide play regularly, building new creations and exploring vast worlds.
One question that gets debated frequently is whether Minecraft has any educational value. While the commonly accepted theory most people hold is that video games can’t do much to help children learn, Minecraft is different. In fact, there are many teachers around the world using Minecraft as an academic tool. PBS has even gone so far as to call Minecraft “the Ultimate Educational Tool.” So exactly what makes Minecraft educational?
Minecraft Fosters Creativity
There can be no question that Minecraft helps to foster creativity. Players are given the ability to build virtually anything they can image. Resources are provided which help to establish boundaries, which in turn helps to develop critical thinking skills in children. In addition to the opportunity to bring things to life after first imagining them, players are also able to explore countless worlds or try out different variations of the game using mods and resource packs.
And while there can be no doubt that a game like Minecraft goes a long way towards helping people to think more creatively, some would still argue that it doesn’t necessarily mean that Minecraft can help with learning. We think that there are several elements of Minecraft that very much cater to key parts of a well-rounded education.
How Minecraft Helps Develop Math Skills
One very obvious way that Minecraft can help its players learn is through the crafting element. Crafting is the part of the game where the player has to piece together different blocks to create something new. For example, a user with two wood blocks can bring them together to make a stick. More complicated tools and mechanisms can require up to 9 blocks of a certain material arranged in a certain fashion. There are even special charged elements called Redstone that can enable users to “power” their creations. Players have built entire functioning factories, music sequencers, arcade games and even working printers. Sometimes you have to see Redstone in action to believe it yourself!
All of this requires a firm grasp basic math skills! For many parents, crafting is the perfect answer for getting their kids interested in addition, subtraction, multiplication and even division. They’re actually all covered in the game, and presented in a far more interesting way than just numbers on a page. And while the application of Minecraft to developing basic mathematical skills may seem obvious, there are actually other areas where young players can grow academically within the game.
Using Minecraft to Enhance Reading Comprehension
Many History, Social Studies and even Literature teachers use the game to help students learn how to relate to settings in their reading. Whether these settings are historically accurate or recreations from some great literary work, Minecraft can help students figure out how to imagine different surroundings and conditions. It’s becoming fairly common for innovative educators to assign their students the task of recreating something they’ve studied using Minecraft. This helps the students to become more in tune with that piece by forcing them to think creatively about the setting. This skill can be a critical part of the development of reading comprehension skills and is easily applied in many different academic areas.
Creating Models with Minecraft
Another important skill we mentioned earlier is critical thinking. One of the key ways to develop both critical thinking and problem solving skills is to build models. Minecraft enables users to do just that, and to do so with a limited stock. By forcing players to use what’s available to them to develop creations, players begin to think logically about the progression of a build. Elaborate creations require the user to first take a careful inventory of his/her resources and then detail out a careful, step-by-step plan of the logical progression of the task. This also prompts the player to learn more about what he or she is building. Teachers are able to assign models of things like trains, buildings or even entire nations to help students do just that. This is the perfect way to develop these crucial skills in an interesting way!
How Minecraft Develops Leadership Skills
Minecraft can also be used to help develop leadership skills in children. By assigning “project leaders” to group builds, or even including individual projects in a curriculum, teachers are able to put students in a position of individual accountability. In either scenario, it is the responsibility of the student to take initiative to complete the assigned task. When students view such an assignment with this perspective, rather than as a chore, they are far more likely to participate more fully and, in turn, to get more out of the exercise.
Minecraft in the Classroom
While many schools are unable to provide individual computer stations to each child in every class, Minecraft can be enjoyed in a communal setting. In fact, many teachers use the PC version of the game to set up single servers with worlds dedicated to learning exercises for their students. When all the students can join when they are able to, whether that means at home or during an allotted time on a school computer, it gives everyone the chance to participate.
At EnviousHost, we’re proud to offer the ability to create custom servers for cases just like this. We work with educators around the globe to provide a safe, educational environment for students and we fully support the mission to make Minecraft an educational tool. Is Minecraft educational? We believe it absolutely can be, and that’s why we are committed to helping share the value of this beloved game! To learn more about what we’re currently doing for teachers, or to find out what we could be doing for you, give us a call at (877) 512-4678 to speak with one of our helpful team members!