Minecraft, the paper clip and me
This was meant to be a post about using Minecraft Pocket Edition with Grade 1 students. But given the giant paper clip in the room, that post will have to wait.
Instead, I’m going to write about what the recent Microsoft purchase of Minecraft could mean for educators, students and myself.
What will change for Minecraft Teachers
The truth? Probably not much.
All that remains to be seen. Stay tuned.
What will change for me
For me, however, (a many others, I’m guessing) a little block has died somewhere deep inside.
I’m sad. I said so on the CBC last Friday. You can hear me whimper live on radio if you like.
As I said in that interview, one of the things I love about Minecraft is the story of its beginning and the community that has built up around it (including this one.) It’s been told many times. There’s even a documentary about it all.
Minecraft was an outsider. It was rough around the edges and hard to define. It hasn’t been that for a long time, but being able to bring something that independent and raw into the normally generic world of school was a blast.
In a world of rubrics, checklists and report cards, this bizarre game with its totally lame graphics, absence of tutorials and unlimited creativity was a hurricane of fresh air, for both students and teachers.
Back in 2011, my students hadn’t heard of the game. They didn’t know what to make of it. But they knew how to play it. The first time we played, it was loud, wild and very messy. And it led to much amazing learning.
Minecraft wasn’t some curriculum-focused, assessment-driven eduware game demo’d by dudes in polo shirts at an edtech conference. It was a videogame. An indy game. And for those who brought (and still bring) it into the classroom, it was a little bit of authenticity in a day of bells, plastic chairs and ancient Dells covered in grime and boogers.
For me, that’s the biggest thing that has changed. Minecraft has lost that independence that made me want to talk about it to any teacher within earshot.
Minecraft will still continue to be all the amazing it is. But now, those polo shirt dudes with their branded lanyards will get their edtech conference demos. Those gamer-skeptic, data-driven school boards will sign up en mass because Minecraft now has that Microsoft seal of legitimacy (and who knows what other spyware, data-monitoring yuckiness yet to be baked into the Edu2.0 version.)
What will change for my students
I understand why Notch and the crew did what they did. It’s not a huge surprise. There’s no blame. Just a little sadness on my part. At the end of the school day, I’ll still use Minecraft with my students.
And what about my students stuck in those plastic chairs with those nasty Dells? Will they care?
Not one bit. When I’m teaching, they’ll still get to play Minecraft at school. They will still create, break and get messy with their learning.
Even with that paper clip looming over us all.
What do you think? Will Microsoft’s purchase of Mojang and Minecraft change the way you use it with your students? Let us know in the comments below.