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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¬†ūüôā 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 ….

 

 

So Nice to See Mi

"It's So Nice to See Mi!"

“It’s So Nice to See Mi!”

Taking Care of Your Skin

Despite the fact that I usually play Minecraft in the first person view, it is always reassuring to see yourself and know that your skin is representing your Minecraft self.

gumby_skin¬†It’s really quite amazing that the entire external appearance of a Minecraft characters is captured in¬†a¬†tiny (231 byte) .png file. ¬†I’ve not adjusted my skin since I initially designed it back in June 2012, but I’m looking forward to seeing if there are any tweaks that can be made with the newer Alex skin that is now available.¬†¬†At least some headphones or sunglasses might be cool to try out once in a while.

The Original Television Gumby

Of course, the Gumby of my childhood was an animated clay television character. With the recent cold and wind chills, we’ve had a good number of indoor recesses, and on a few occasions I’ve fired up YouTube during our nutrition breaks and my students and I have enjoyed a few of Gumby’s early adventures.

Re-emerging into the First World

"Gumby on a Bucket" by @GumbyBlockhead

“Gumby on a Bucket”

In recent weeks I’ve been enjoying my custom personal GumbyBlockhead figure from EnderToys.com. Following the simple¬†acts of filling in¬†my Minecraft name,¬†forwarding a small sum ($9.99 for the simple, or $14.99 for bendable legs) and waiting for a couple of weeks, my 3D plastic self arrived. ¬†My First Life incarnation of my Minecraft self has taken up residence in my classroom, commanding a view from a bucket perched high atop one of the shelves at the front of the room.

Descent into Overworld

"Gumby Gets into Descent into Overworld"

“Gumby Gets into Descent into Overworld”

Earlier this week, my¬†physical copy of Liam O’Donnell‘s first Battle of the Blocks Minecraft novel arrived, and the First Life Gumby figure followed in the footsteps of his progenitor by going into Liam’s Descent into Overworld book to get a first hand look. We read the¬†electronic eBook release in my classroom¬†on the iPad earlier this year, and we are now anxiously awaiting the second in the series, Nether Nightmare, due out for beta readers in the coming month! In the meantime, the students are waiting in line to read the paper copy of the first book! Talk about motivation for reading!

Immortalized in Green Wool!

"A Giant GumbyBlockhead, built by Raj"

“A Giant GumbyBlockhead, built by Raj”

And then, this afternoon, at the end of the day, I was more than overjoyed when some of my students called me over to an iPad to show me the result of their efforts. Having finished their assigned work, they had taken a few free moments in the last period to collaborate on the creation of a giant, scale copy of GumbyBlockhead in their Minecraft PE world.  How wonderful! They really have done a excellent job, getting the scaling done very accurately, and even getting the slope of my Gumby head looking just right!

What a nice gift to end the week!