Friday, 30 May 2014

Great Learning is Messy, But Fun: A Minecraft World with Friends from Korea

So my class recently linked up with a class in Busan, Korea. I met an excellent teacher through my PLN on Twitter. Mr. Richard Campbell @IpadEFLTeacher runs a school there and he is enthusiastic about the learning opportunities with Minecraft. We decided to have our classes work together in a linked Minecraft world where they would create something together.
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My class had tried several activities in Minecraft this year, but we wanted to try something new. We came up with the idea for "Choose Your Own Adventure Stories". The students were turned loose in the world to start creating the setting for their stories. Like a lot of learning we have done this year, we played a bit before we set restrictions on anything. That makes for a messy start to many activities, but it also allows the students to be involved in setting the criteria for the learning adventure they are embarking upon.
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It wasn't possible to turn the world off at night, because that was the Korean student's daytime when they were working and building. So the world was always open. That allowed for many neat opportunities. Students from Korea and Canada would normally not be able to meet, or communicate directly due to the time difference in their school days. But because students were able to go on and work at home, they were able to meet the Korean students and build with them in the evenings, and early morning. Yes, you read that right, they were voluntarily working at home building and creating this world for their stories.
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Of course, this is where it got a little messy. As they were working outside of school hours, there was some challenges in working together. We met up at school the following day to talk about "spamming" animals (making so many that it interferes with other player's work) and "grieving" (destroying someone else's build). We sat together and came up with the rules for working together on the same world, and I was really proud of the students. We didn't accuse anyone, or mention specific offences, instead we decided what rules would help us to work successfully in the world.
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A couple of students became OPs. This gave them control of how to change things in the world. One of the OPs had caused some of the damage at the beginning, he became the most fair adjudicator of issues in the game, helping others to avoid problems before they became bigger.
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We decided to write about our successes using a shared world in Minecraft. We tried to think of the skills we were developing working together in this world. Here is some of the writing students shared:
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The shared Introduction Board for students in Korea/Canada:
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I think this has a lot of potential for international classes to work together, even when the time zones don't match. Next year my class will hook up with classes across the world, I think Minecraft will be one of the tools we utilize. We will be able to work inside the same world, collaborating and building our ideas together.
Kinda reminds me of the song...
"It's a Small World After All"!