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 ….

 

 

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 РPart 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 ‚ÄúI blew up mountains with TNT, fought a horde of zombies and built a castle in the clouds! And it was all for school!‚ÄĚ 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

 

End City Loot

End-City-Loot_Titled

With the arrival of the March Break, I have had a bit of time to explore the newly revised End that exists in the Minecraft 1.9 update.

After hopping and bridging my way from island of End stone to island of End Stone, I finally came upon an End City. I read up a bit on the new mob, the Shulker, and then engaged with the tower’s defenders. It took a while to sort out where they like to hide, but when all was said and done, they were history and I had a nice collection of End City loot. You can check out the receipts in the GIF above.

Since finding that first End City on Saturday evening, I’ve continued to explore and have since found three more towers. No sign of an End Ship yet, but the update is young.

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!

2016 Sign of the Times Party

2016-Sign-of-the-Times-INVITE

The 2016 Sign has been installed, and preparations are underway for the 2016¬†Sign of the Times celebration, scheduled for New Year’s Eve. This year, members of our community¬†will be meeting in the Northeastern¬†Reaches of the GamingEDUs Professional Play Server (in Survival) at Gumby’s newest build, The Red Castle. ¬†You can join us by logging on and using /warp 2016Sign to get straight to the party. Things will be well underway by 8 PM Eastern Time.

Jack and Emma and CosmicDragon and Joop have all been lending a hand with getting things ready. Jack’s Snack Shack is back again, with the menu already posted. Emily has opened Emily’s Art Gallery right next door. We have a wonderful Viewing Area set up again this year, and Cosmic has started work laying out the wiring for the fireworks. Our Selfie-Station is in place in front of the sign, and we will be taking a group photo¬†just¬†before 8 pm, so be sure to be online a bit early!

New arrivals to The Red Castle may also be interested in undertaking a self-guided tour of the structure, which features a prototype sorting facility in the basement and an XP/ZombieDrop Farm just across the front yard. The recently-installed Pyramid Chickenatorium is housed beneath a nearby Desert Temple a short walk away.

As with our previous New Year’s celebrations in 2013, 2014, and 2015, the Sign of the Times: 2016 get-together promises to be a great event! Be sure to drop by! Party hats provided!

SPECIAL NOTE: ¬†In addition to the Sign of the Times party at 8 pm, we are also hosting the first annual Great Wall of Gumby Marathon Run Event, commencing at 7 PM Eastern Time, one hour before the New Year’s event. To join the run, meet at the Circle Garden at Gumby’s HorsieField Castle. You can get their directly by joining us at /warp GumbyMarathon — arrive shortly before 7 pm so that you have time to get fed and hydrated before we head out. We’ll be running the complete perimeter of the Gumbian Empire atop The Great Wall. We’ll conclude by travelling back by boats from the far end of the wall via¬†the ocean portion as demarked by The Sea Towers.

#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

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!