Category Archives: Learning

Minecraft Education Edition #MinecraftEE – Part 3: Digging Even Deeper

MinecraftEE_Part3

This is the third post intending to provide an introduction to the newly released Minecraft: Education Edition.

NOTE: You may wish to begin with:

Sunday Evening: Exploring Even Deeper

Minecraft: Education Edition (#MinecraftEE) provides educators with a number of education-specific features that are different from those native to vanilla #Minecraft, and #MinecraftPE (Personal Edition).

In TeacherGaming’s modded #MinecraftEDU, there were dialogue box interface elements and server management features added by TeacherGaming that contributed to education functions in support of managing World files and world features, students permissions and assignments, and a host of other useful functions.

The key (from the end of Part 2, please read) to getting at the important education elements in #MinecraftEE lies in understanding and accessing text-based commands that are “buried under the hood.” To access them, you need to become familiar with using the “slash” / key in the text chat. There is no server option or significant GUI interface for education features at this point in design of the product. In this regard, #MinecraftEE is notably different from #MinecraftEDU. 

In vanilla #Minecraft, there are commands which have no GUI interface but which are accessed by typing syntax-correct text expressions in the chat bar, for example:

/gamemode 0
/gamemode 1
/gamemode 3
/sethome
/home

The statements above are examples of text commands used to toggle to Survival, Creative, or Spectator, respectively, or to set a home base or return to a home base. Some text-based commands are added to vanilla #Minecraft by the addition of mod files.

#MinecraftEE has a set of similar “slash commands” (accessed by typing the forward slash / key) to access. When typing commands, the #MinecraftEE text box employs a nice prediction feature to help save you time typing and cut down on mistyped keystrokes. Use the TAB key while typing a command to auto-complete the command.

Understanding the slash commands is the path to getting access to the various #MinecraftEE education features (NPCs, border/allow/deny blocks, access to camera/portfolio/) so that you as an educator can unlock its current potential.

Text-based "slash" commands in #MinecraftEE

Text-based “slash” commands in #MinecraftEE

Here is a brief explanation of each of the commands present in #MinecraftEE:

  • /ability Sets a player’s ability
  • /clone Copies blocks from one place to another (does not appear at this time)
  • /deop Revoke operator status from a player
  • /fill Fills a region with a specific block/
  • /gamemode Sets a player’s game mode
  • /gamerule Sets or queries a game rule value
  • /give Gives an item to a player
  • /help Provides help for commands
  • /kill Removes entities (players, mobs, items, etc.)
  • /list Lists players on the server
  • /op Grants operator status to a player
  • /say Displays a message to multiple players
  • /setblock Changes a block to another block
  • /setfixedinvslot Places a particular block type in one of the fixed inventory slots
  • /setfixedinvslots Sets the number of fixed inventory slots (from 1-3)
  • /setworldspawn Sets the world spawn (where new players appear the first time they join)
  • /spawnpoint Sets the spawn point for a player
  • /summon Summons an entity
  • /tell Displays a private message to other players
  • /testforblock Tests whether a block is in a location
  • /testforblocks Tests whether the blocks in two regions match
  • /time Changes or queries the world’s game time
  • /toggledownfall Toggles the weather
  • /tp Teleports entities
  • /weather Sets the weather
  • /xp Adds or removes player experience.

For those familiar with using such commands in #Minecraft, knowing that the commands are present and how they need to be used will likely be sufficient. For educators who are newer to #Minecraft or to text-based commands in general, it is important to know that many (but not necessarily all) of the commands require additional text-based arguments (parameters) — details to complete the instruction.

An Example: Changing the weather

The command /weather (which makes in-game changes to the weather) requires one of three possible arguments to identify the type of weather. If you type /weather (and then a space), the three possible options appear above the chat bar as prompts:

rainclearweather

Note that one of these three options is sufficient to effect a change in the weather. Try each of the following, pressing the return key after each to initiate the command.

/weather rain
/weather thunder
/weather clear

Note that the /weather command can also take a second parameter after the selected weather option (clear/rain/thunder) in the form of a number to specify the duration of that weather type. Try the following:

/weather rain 20
/weather thunder 1200 
/weather clear 2400

Time in Minecraft is measured in “ticks.”  20 ticks is about one second in real time. Did you wonder why the rain only lasted for a second? 20×60=1200 (one minute).

The Key: Accessing the Educator-specific Features of #MinecraftEE

The key to accessing the education-specific features of #MinecraftEE is to use the command /ability for whenever you wish to make such changes.  The /ability command takes three parameters to effect this change (a username, the specific ability, and the boolean value true):

/ability GumbyBlockhead worldbuilder true

As of the June 2016 release, there are two possible abilities that may be effected using the /ability command:

ability

Giving yourself the worldbuilder ability as well as setting your /gamemode to creative opens the door to the following:

  • NPCs: place NPCs using the multi-coloured spawnNPC egg (third tab in creative), and edit them by right-clicking to access their name, text box, and learn-more URL.
  • Slates, Posters, Boards: place slates, posters, and boards (second tab in creative) by right clicking. Right-click again to edit.
  • Deny Blocks: place deny blocks (first tab in creative) underneath an area which you do not want users to be able to change.
  • Allow Blocks: place allow blocks (first tab in creative) above existing deny blocks to allow users to make changes to the area above the allow blocks.
  • Border Blocks: place border blocks to restrict movement of players (a larger border around a specific learning area with the spawn inside will stop students from wandering off)
  • Fixed Inventory Slots: provide up to three additional inventory slots (cycle through the by using the 0 key) to the right of the standard 1-9 slot using /setfixedinvslots
  • Set Contents of Fixed Inventory Slots: assign a specific block type (camera, portfolio, etc.) to a specific fixed inventory slot using /setfixedinventoryslot

Try the following:

/setfixedinvslots 3
/setfixedinvslot 1 camera
/setfixedinvslot 2 portfolio
/setfixedinvslot 3 slate

To test things out as the user will experience  (to see if your NPC web links are working, or to test your boundary blocks, etc, you will need to remove your worldbuilder ability.

/ability GumbyBlockhead worldbuilder false

Note that when you use the /ability command, you would specify YOUR username, not mine! As soon as you have typed /ability and a space, your username should appear as a possible target in the pop-up above the text bar.

Clear? 

If you have followed through this far, you are well on your way to understanding the education-specific features of #MinecraftEE Minecraft: Education Edition. Play around with the features and explore.  Feel free to contact me if you have questions! We can learn together.

You may wish to download and check out GumbySample.zip which includes a GumbySample.mcworld file and ReadMe.txt file. Import the world file into your #MinecraftEE using the Import button.

Profile Types

There are 3 types of “profiles” in #MinecraftEE: normal, operator, and worldbuilder.

  • Users who connect to a world over a LAN will join with a normal profile.
  • If you are hosting the world for others to connect to, you will automatically have an operator profile, which gives you access to the “slash commands.”
  • If you have opened the world as operator, you can give yourself the /ability  worldbuilder to make use of the education-specific features.

Learning More

There are a number of posts on the education.minecraft.net/ site that will serve as reference in the initial stages of your exploration of #MinecraftEE. I’m sure other resources will be forthcoming over the next few months.

Keep an eye out for Minecraft Education Edition #MinecraftEE – Part 4: Analysis in the next few days which will offer a comprehensive overview of the options available to educators (#Minecraft, MinecraftPE, and #MinecraftEE) who are looking to use #MinecraftEd in general  with learners.

 

Minecraft Education Edition #MinecraftEE – Part 2: A Tutorial World

MinecraftEE_Part2

NOTE: If you’ve not yet read Minecraft Educaton Edition #MinecraftEE – Part 1: A First Look, you might like to visit that post and then return here for Part 2.

Sunday Morning: A Tutorial World

Sunday morning I came across a tweet linking to a Tutorial world for use with Minecraft: Education Edition, and the file shed some bright lights 🙂 on the as-yet-to-be-seen education features.

The file was easy to download (obtain Tutorial World.mcworld here) and super easy to import with the new Import/Export interface. (NOTE: This one feature for sure beats rooting around (pun) in the Library/Application Support/Minecraft/Saves for a folder of data to share, as is currently the case with vanilla Minecraft!)

#MinecraftEE includes a very easy-to-use Import button for bring in shared world files.

#MinecraftEE includes a very easy-to-use Import button for bring in shared world files.

NPCs: Upon launching the file, I was greeted with an NPC (non-player character) “Tour Guide” who welcomed me to the tutorial. The NPC is a previously-available-via-mod Minecraft feature which has now been built natively into M:EE. Clicking on the “Tour Guide” provided a large space to provide text-based information to learners, as well as an active link to a video on youtube, Welcome to Stage 1. Nice.

It's an NPC Tour Guide! A Minecraft:Education Edition feature has appeared!

It’s an NPC Tour Guide! Hooray! The NPCs dialogue button “Learn More” links out to Youtube. Very cool.

The tutorial world provides a brief introduction to movement, crafting, and an “open world” exploration before introducing the specific #MInecraftEE education features. The tutorial sequence was not unlike that experience found in the MinecraftEDU tutorial world (or the Teacher Training Zone #TTZ) on the GamingEDUs Professional Play server, but it moved quickly through three stages:

Stage One: Movement  (WASD, space) for navigation, mouse-look, lever to open door, breaking blocks, swimming, breaking and placing blocks, climbing ladders.

Stage Two: Crafting (harvesting (punching) wood, inventory, planks and sticks, crafting a Crafting Table, recipe for crafting a pick), and breaking through stone,

Stage Three: Open World (exploring a stone pick, making torches, mining coal and iron ore, building a door, harvesting and replanting carrots and wheat, making bread, and finally making a furnace and smelting some iron — I added those last two.)

Here’s a little video of my adventures through Stages One, Two, and Three.

After working my way through Stages One, Two, and Three, I arrived at the hoped-for Stage Four: Education Edition Features They do exist in this release! Hooray! You just need to know how to find them.

The Camera

New in #MInecraftEE is a camera block, which allows you to easily capture an image of a scene or take a selfie. You can either place the camera on the ground to capture an image, or simply right click while holding the camera in your hand. Note that the ability to take full-screen captures exists in vanilla #Minecraft through the F2 key — the only challenge is (again) rooting through and digging the images out of the Library/Application Support/Minecraft/screenshots folder. #MInecraftEE makes this a bit easier for learners and teachers alike, although I would like a full-screen option as well as the “polaroid” form factor image. You can see me holding the camera block in each of the “polaroid” images below.

Hooray! We've struck #MinecraftEE teacher features!

Hooray! We’ve struck #MinecraftEE teacher features! I’ve taken a picture with the built-in camera!

The Portfolio

The Portfolio provides a two-page-at-a-glance book interface, with a captioning option.

The Portfolio provides a two-page-at-a-glance book interface, with a captioning option. The Portfolio can be exported.

The Portfolio collects images taken with the Camera, and provides a captioning facility to allow learners and teachers to provide a brief annotation. The text is styled in the blocky-Minecraft script. It’s a bit hard to read, both on-screen and when the images are exported via the Portfolio’s export function. (The portfolio creates a .zip file, which contains one file for each “photo” taken — any added caption is included as part of the image.) But again, this is a step-up from the vanilla F2 screen capture.

Allow and Deny Blocks

Allow and Deny Blocks allow and deny changes above or below them.

Allow and Deny Blocks allow and deny changes above or below them.

#MinecraftEDU provided a number of options for ensuring that areas of an instructional world file remain unchanged by visitors. Essentially a binary pair of blocks (placed below ground level) either permit or deny changes to the blocks above. The #MinecraftEE Tutorial World has the Allow and Deny Block on display, but they are really not implemented in the tutorial so as to demonstrate how they might be used. Rather, the educator is prompted to “think about how you can use Allow and Deny Blocks in your worlds.” This is something likely to be remedied in an updated Tutorial World file in the near future, I’d guess.

Slates, Posters, and Boards

"Slates, and Posters, and Boards. Oh my!"

“Slates, and Posters, and Boards. Oh my!”

Upon seeing the Slates, Posters, and Boards,  my second thought (after asking “Why can’t I break or edit these?”) was, “Why aren’t these iPads or electronic display boards?” I find it odd that we revert to the blackboard metaphor in this day and age. Granted, they are a step up from wooden signs, but only just.  (The answer to “Why can’t I break or edit these?” appears in Part 3. You’ll notice I was able to detach them from their placements …

Boundary Blocks

Fancy-looking, fiery-red animated Boundary Blocks. You shall not pass.

Fancy-looking, fiery-red animated Boundary Blocks. You shall not pass!

Another feature that has made it through from #MinecraftEDU is the boundary block.  In the TeacherGaming version, the boundary blocks have no animation, and my application has always been to bury them under ground (with deny blocks beneath). The effect is that a player reaches an impassable boundary, and receives a message to that effect. In the #MinecraftEE implementation, the Boundary Blocks have a red, fiery animation. The effect is the same — the player cannot cross or fly over the boundary — or dig under. Again, my inclination would be to continue to bury them — thus adding a sense of magic to the play. These boundary blocks do not appear to provide a message to the user.

NPCs (Non-Player Characters)

The DemoNPCs speak of great potential, but it is hidden in the tutorial.

The DemoNPCs speak of great potential, but it is hidden in the tutorial.

Mr. and Mrs. NPC appear at the end of new Education Edition features. They are standing there, with their names displayed above them.  Aside from that, they don’t really say or do anything. It appears that NPCs as implemented in #MinecraftEE do not move. They are essentially interactive signs, with the option to provide an active web link. They track to face you as you move about them.

In closing, The Tutorial World was not immediately forthcoming as to how to use the Slates, Posters, Boards, or NPCs.

But as I wound down my second (Sunday morning) session with #MinecraftEE, I poked around a bit and came across a key to what will form the bulk of the next part in this series:

Minecraft Education Edition #MinecraftEE – Part 3: Digging Even Deeper

HEY! It's Gumby's Dad! And a slate, saying "meet Gumby's Dad!"

HEY! It’s Gumby’s Dad! And a slate, saying “meet GUMBY’s Dad!”

That key allowed me post a sign slate, and find Gumby’s Dad! And he even knows the link to GumbyBlockhead.com!!

The story continues ….

 

 

Minecraft Education Edition #MinecraftEE – Part 1: A First Look

MinecraftEE_Part1In November, 2014, Microsoft announced that they had purchased Mojang’s best-selling game,  Minecraft, at a cost of $2.5 Billion. In February, 2016, Microsoft simultaneously announced the acquisition of the TeacherGaming-modded MinecraftEDU, and the pending release of a new Minecraft: Education Edition.

The “summer 2016 pre-release” of Minecraft: Education Edition (#MinecraftEE) was made available on Friday, June 10th. This education-only version is based on the underpinning code of the best-selling MinecraftPE (Personal Edition, for iOS and touch-screen devices), rather than the full-blown, original Java-based Minecraft for desktop computers, or even the acquired #MinecraftEDU product.  What follows are the results of my explorations of Minecraft: Education Edition on Friday afternoon (this post, Part 1: A First Look), Sunday morning (Part 2: A Tutorial World), and Sunday afternoon (Part 3: Digging Even Deeper).

NOTE:  Throughout this series of posts, I will be referring to a number of different versions of Minecraft. To keep them straight here, and in online environments such as Twitter, Flickr, and Instagram, I will be maintaining the following naming conventions:

  • #Minecraft: vanilla Minecraft for desktop computers, currently at v1.10
  • #MinecraftEDU: TeacherGaming‘s modded Minecraft for Education for desktop computers, based on vanilla v1.7.10, no longer under development, but available for use in perpetuity for users with existing licenses.
  • #MinecraftPE: The tablet-based version of Minecraft for iOS and Windows tablets, v0.14.3
  • #MinecraftEE: The new “Education Edition,” for Windows 10 and Mac OS X, v0.14.2

A generic #MinecraftEd tag will be used for a general use of Minecraft in Education, irregardless of the version of Minecraft being used.

Friday After School: First Look

Friday after school I loaded the new #MinecraftEE application onto my Mac. The .zip archive contained a single Mac OS X application, but no read me file or documentation.  It was a Macintosh snap to install by dragging the program into the Applications folder. So far, so good.

LoginMEE

Login authentication via Office365. Education-accounts only.

Upon launching the application (the window initially scaled really small on my large monitor and Macbook retina display) I was prompted to log in using an education-related Office365 account. My school district account authentication worked perfectly. (My personal hotmail.com Office365 account was not recognized as a valid education-related account. More on that later.)

Initial exploration

Education Edition arrives with Steve, Alex, and an additional 55 skins to choose from. As importing your own true-identity skin is not yet possible, I started by choosing chose Steve.

SkinsEE

You can be Steve, Alex, or one of 55 special skins for Education Edition.

I moved then on and created a New World, going with my natural preference, Survival.

Movement, breaking, and placing blocks functioned as expected. I punched some wood, functioned a crafting block and some wooden tools, and then dropped into a hole to mine some coal and iron.

I may look like any other Steve, but I still have my GumbyBlockhead mining mojo.

I may look like any other Steve in #MinecraftEE, but I still have my GumbyBlockhead mining mojo.

As I worked through the mine, I missed not being able to dual-wield my pick and torches simultaneously (a recent addition in the 1.9 desktop version Minecraft), and I noticed that the sprint (double-tap W) seemed pretty much absent. That may be an issue when mobs are chasing you. So far, I’ve not seen any.

Controls and Interface Elements

The usual desktop controls (WASD, mouse, spacebar, etc.) worked just fine (as they had with the Minecraft beta for Windows 10 I tested earlier this spring), despite a number of interface elements reminiscent of the tablet-edition #MinecraftPE. One thing that I really hope that gets updated is the cramped and merged-together 4-tab interface in Creative. The vanilla #Minecraft interface sorts them into ten much easier-to-navigate categories. The vanilla search option would be nice to have, too.

FourTabsPlusInventory

Eight categories of blocks smushed into 4 tabs

The interface in Minecraft: Education Edition is very reminiscent of the MinecraftPE interface.

The interface in Minecraft: Education Edition (#MinecraftEE) is very reminiscent of the #MinecraftPE touch interface.

Education Features?

Given that the 0.14.2 #MinecraftPE-available features seemed to be functioning as expected, I decided to go looking for the education features. But they weren’t readily apparent. #MinecraftEDU, TeacherGaming’s modded version of Minecraft,  provides additional teacher features within the client version via a teacher menu (press M) interface. I tried pressing M. No luck.

The large selection of "teacher features" from #MinecraftEDU are missing from #MinecraftEE

The large selection of “teacher features” from #MinecraftEDU appear to be missing from #MinecraftEE

Since a great strength of the #MinecraftEDU is the easy-to-manage server implementation, I wondered if the teacher functions only appeared once a networking environment was in place for #MinecraftEE. However, given that the #MinecraftPE (and thus #MinecraftEE) is based on a peer-to-peer networking rather than server-based networking, I had my doubts.

The server of the #MinecraftEDU offers considerable features. #MinecraftEE does not use a server.

The server of the #MinecraftEDU implementation offers considerable features. #MinecraftEE does not use a server.

Test 1: I tried logging onto #MinecraftEE simultaneously on a second computer with my education O365 account, but Microsoft knew that I was already logged on, and would not allow a second authentication with the same account in Minecraft.

Test 2: I tried logging onto #MinecraftEE on the second computer using a hotmail.com O365 account, but it was recognized as an ineligible-for-education use account.

Not Eligible To Use Minecraft Education Edition

This Account is Not Eligible To Use Minecraft Education Edition

Test 3: Knowing that #MinecraftEE shared a common code base with #MinecraftPE, I tried connecting from my iPad. HEY! I  was able to see the v0.14.2 #MinecraftEE hosted world from the iPad, but the different version (v0.14.3) was detected, and the connection was refused. But I’m thinking this potentially bodes well for multi-platform implementations of #MinecraftEE. Might students one day be able to all work together from a school collection of iPads, Macs, Windows-desktops, Surface tablets, and game consoles when #MinecraftEE is fully implemented? Only Microsoft knows.

Connecting to MinecraftEE from MinecraftPE was almost possible ...

Connecting to MinecraftEE from MinecraftPE was almost possible …

So What’s New?

My initial 30 minute exploration had me mining, building, exploring, and farming, but really did not reveal any of the new features that were advertised on the Minecraft: Education Edition website. At the end of my initial session, I wondered if there were any education features within this release. Was it simply the Minecraft beta for Windows 10, ported to Mac? Did I need to run the application under Windows 10 to see the education features?  Was the “Easy Classroom Collaboration” working? Where were the Camera and Portfolio? What about the Non-Player Characters, the Chalkboards, and the host of other features that were present in the End-of-Life’d MinecraftEDU?  At least the Simple, Secure Sign-In allowed me to sign in — but only from one machine at a time.

Stay tuned as the story progresses …

Next up,
Minecraft Education Edition #MinecraftEE – Part 2: A Tutorial World
Minecraft Education Edition #MinecraftEE – Part 3: Digging Even Deeper

ETFO Summer Academy: The ABCs of Minecraft

“ABCs of Minecraft (Sky)” by GumbyBlockhead, on Flickr

@MzMollyTL (aka Diana Maliszewski) and @GumbyBlockhead (aka Andrew Forgrave) will be offering “The ABCs of Minecraft” this July as part of the ETFO Summer Academy 2016.

If you are interested in learning how educators around Ontario and around the globe are using Minecraft with their students, this summer learning experience just may be for you.

Are you often asked what did you do on your summer vacation? You probably never respond with “I blew up mountains with TNT, fought a horde of zombies and built a castle in the clouds! And it was all for school!” This could be true if you choose to join us for this three-day course that will focus on using Minecraft, the popular blocky video game and how it can fit in your classroom. Participants will spend time playing Minecraft while discovering the pedagogy behind play-based learning and games-based learning. Come and join us to learn about how this tool can be used to support curriculum, and more importantly, student learning.

Desktop computers will be available, however participants may choose to bring a personal laptop with Wi-Fi capabilities to use during the course.

The ABCs of Minecraft is session SC-75 on the ETFO Summer Academy 2016 site.
You can access the registration page for this course directly via bit.ly/ETFO_ABCsOfMinecraft.

We hope you will join us! Please register early as spaces are limited.

“ABCs of Minecraft (Trees)” by GumbyBlockhead, on Flickr

 

Our Very Best Wishes to You as you Explore and Create in 2016

GamingEDUs_BestWishes2016_1200

Hey! It’s Phisagrim, Emily606, Technascribe, Jack1225, GumbyBlockhead, Terragrim, PraxisMaxis, and Liragrim!

We had a great get-together on the GamingEDUs Professional Play server to celebrate 2015 and welcome in 2016. Full details, with pictures and even some video to follow after a few hours of sleep to recuperate!

#BIT15 Minecraft LAN Party at bringITtogether.ca

BIT15_MinecraftLANparty

Conference attendees at the annual ECOO conference, Bring IT, Together! are in for a treat on the evening of Thursday, November 5th, 2015, as Gumby and other members of the GamingEDUs community will host their third annual Minecraft LAN Party in Niagara Falls.

The event get started at 8:30 pm and runs until midnight! Stop by Peller Estates Ballroom B at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls on November 5th, 2015 for some crazy Minecraft fun! Details in Lanyrd.com

The Tower of Pi (with Pie!)

Tower of Pi distant

“Tower of Pi (distant),” by @GumbyBlockhead

While exploring the far reaches of the new GamingEDUs Multi-School MinecraftEDU server, I have so far encountered a huge ocean with only a few dots of grassy islands and two or three mushroom biomes (certainly a statistical anomaly).

However, on one of the islands in the far west is a most amazing construction, The Tower of Pi. Gumby’s Tower of Pi is fashioned in the shape of the figure of pi, built using the MinecraftEDU-specific blue pi-blocks, and is decorated in an appropriate fashion. To enhance the visitors’ positive experience, the top of the Tower observation deck also features a goodly number of double-wide chests FILLED WITH PIE!

"Tower of Pi (closeup)," by @GumbyBlockhead

“Tower of Pi (closeup),” by @GumbyBlockhead

Be sure to stop in and take in the beautiful ocean panoramic view, and enjoy the tasty pie treats that are waiting, just for you!  (And don’t forget, teachers new to Minecraft are welcome to join us for our weekly Tuesday Evening Build ‘n’ Learn Nights, starting at 7 PM ET).

Explore far! Explore wide!

Your pal in Minecraft,

Gumby

Tuesday Evening Play ‘N’ Learn Events on GamingEDUs

TuesdayEveningPlayNLearn600

Teachers!

  • Would you like to have a supportive place to poke around in Minecraft?
  • Are you looking for a safe place to lay down some creative blocks?
  • Do you want to get up to speed in how you can use Minecraft to support learning?
  • Are you keen to n00b It Up with your peers?
  • Do you want to have a better understanding about what all these kids are talking about?

GamingEDUs Professional Play Server is just the place! And Tuesday evenings (starting at 7pm) is just the time!

First introduced in mid-October 2014, our Tuesday Evening Play ‘n’ Learn Nights are an ideal opportunity for you to hop onto the GamingEDUs Professional Play server and hang out with me (GumbyBlockhead) and PraxisMaxis and the other Elders. Master your keyboard and mouse in our Teacher Training Zone, stake your claim on some land, and build up an inventory of materials and skills so that you are ready to sally forth (or fifth) into the World Of Teaching with Minecraft. Yes, indeed, there is such a land!

The hardest part in joining us is making the decision to join us! Once you’ve done that, the rest is easy peasy!

  1. Get yourself a Minecraft account (pick a cool username!) and download and install Minecraft ($26.95 USD).
  2. Let us know your username so we can add you to our server.
  3. Log on to our server Tuesday evenings starting at 7 pm (eastern time) and join in the fun!

You can always drop me a line at gumby [at] gumbyblockhead [dot] com, or connect with me on twitter (@GumbyBlockhead) so we can prepare a fine welcome for you. Or just drop in spontaneously starting at 7 pm, and join us for some delicious Minecraft cake!

Remember, everything you do for the first time is a great opportunity to learn — and learning new things is what we’re all about! n00b It Up with us and get your learning on!

Put Tuesday evenings on your calendar now, and we look forward to seeing you in the near future!

Your Friend-in-Gaming,

Gumby

A New MineCrafter Joins the Guild!

A colleague of mine showed up on the GamingEDUs Professional Play MineCraft server this evening, and PraxisMaxis and Liragrim and I had an opportunity to show her around and interact via text chat as she learned in the space. I’m sure she will have her own take on the adventure, and I know she must have had fun, and I trust that she also left the experience with a lot of questions!

One of the most enjoyable moments with MineCraft comes when you have one of those “aha” moments — and those moments, together with the opportunity to have a virtual (!) free reign in exploring and creating, makes for a very rewarding learning opportunity.   There is nothing in the world that you can break (break in a truly permanent sense — you can always re-construct something), and yet the opportunity to try, and test, and hypothesize, and evaluate is always there.

Gee, that sounds like fun!

Basic Movements
Making use of the left hand movements (A-left, W-forward, S-back, D-right) together with the space bar for jump (fly up) and the shift key (fly down) may or may not be familiar when you are first starting out, but looking around with the mouse (pan left-right, look up, look down) becomes natural very quickly, and combining the two hands comes with just a bit of practice. The number keys give you quick access to your tool belt, and the left mouse button to break blocks and the right mouse button to place/activate blocks also comes quickly with a bit of practice.

You can check out this video for a nice overview.

Make a Shelter
A nice beginning task, once you find a nice spot, it to build yourself a little house. Dirt works nicely, or wood. Or stone. Or bricks. (In Survival Mode, you’ll start with dirt or wood, until you gather some more robust supplies.)

In your house, consider placing the following:

  • a crafting block (made from four planks)
  • a bed (made from three wool sitting on three planks in the crafting block)
  • a chest (to hold your possessions) made from eight planks around a centre space in the crafting block

Set up your house with an inside torch, and a couple outside torches, and then, as finishing touches, add a wooden door and a glass block or two for windows.  Think LEGO as you go, and you’ll be on your way before you know it!   (Once you have a bed, you can sleep at night — a very good practice in Survival Mode until you get some other necessities of survival, like a sword for fending off those nasty mobs.)

There are some great getting started videos that will be very helpful early on in your play. You can check those out on the MineCraft: How to Play page — and once you start to have specific questions, the MineCraft Wiki is the go-to source for all the details and recipes you might want.

That, or YouTube! (Or, if you have a child near by, consider asking them! They may just have the MineCraft experience you need, and together you can move your learning forward!).

And once you’ve gone somewhere, or built something, or had an adventure, consider telling the story. There’s the story of what happened to you in world, and the story of what happened to you as a learner in the outside world. MineCraft is a great mill with which to generate learning grist.  We can all learn from both!

I will see you in MineCraft.

Gumby

“Looking into The Small, Deep Pool” by GumbyBlockhead, on Flickr

“High Diving Platform with a Small Deep Pool” by GumbyBlockhead, on Flickr

“Building a First House” by GumbyBlockhead, on Flickr