Gaming in school has been met with mixed reviews. But nothing can refute the growing popularity of Minecraft Education Edition. Those who love it, love it a lot. The favorite blocky metaverse has been chosen by 100,000 educators around the world, with 120 million downloads of educational content from the Minecraft Marketplace. And half a million students worldwide have participated in build challenges and esports competitions.
But getting the most downloads is the anti-racism Minecraft Education world that Atlanta Public Schools teacher, Felisa Ford, co-created–a world that’s been downloaded more than 3.5 million times. In it, civil rights activist Congressman John Lewis leads students’ avatars through different simulations that focus on movements such as Black Lives Matter, characteristics of identity, women’s suffrage, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai’s fight for girls’ education in Pakistan. Students explore the different viewpoints from the perspective of icons like Rosa Parks or Gandhi, with the mission to help them accomplish a goal like rebuilding a school destroyed by the Taliban in the Malala world.
With a background in social studies, Ford, now a Digital Learning Specialist, teamed up with colleagues Natasha Rachell and Ken Shelton to use Minecraft to “cultivate a strong understanding of inclusion, equity, and community” as they “develop skills in citizenship, critical thinking, and community building.”
“We want all students to know the stories of the activists all over the world who’ve gotten into Good Trouble standing up for the rights of others,” Fod told TIME. “And now they learn all that while they’re playing a game and problem-solving and even learning to code in Minecraft.”
A 2016-2017 study of 118 students attending third to sixth grade of a French-language school in the Greater Montreal area (Canada) found that “Minecraft can not only help students develop problem-solving and teamwork skills, it can also increase their motivation… and has been shown to stimulate students’ interest in science and… learn about technology, teamwork, and engineering. So, besides exercising their creativity, users can inhabit a virtual environment to learn about and use concepts that are more difficult to understand in real life.”
Other benefits of education-based gaming include:
As more schools use gaming and advanced technology to enhance education, it will be increasingly important to have a school network to support this demand level. Luckily, there are a lot of options for schools looking to upgrade. Cloud network vendors like Extreme are partnered with E-Rate to provide advanced networking solutions that work within your budget. Elements like wireless, cloud network management, switching and more are all included in the Extreme menu of offerings.
The real world can stand to make some changes in its perspective, including perspectives on how to use technology to educate our children. Felisa Ford will tell you that the online gaming environment allows students to explore content from a holistic perspective. And this is the very reason she co-created a Minecraft Education Edition world, “Lessons in Good Trouble”.
With women like Felisa Ford thinking outside the box not only in edtech but in education in general, it brings a lot of hope. And with networking solutions that prime the school network for more innovation, it’s truly possible to make education easier for everyone.