Getting started with MinecraftEDU
Once you have the MinecraftEDU client installed on some computers at your school (Civica will organise all this for you through your on-site technician), we would advise that you have some CPD with all teachers who are interested in using the Minecraft environment to enhance learning experiences in their subject. Even better would be to involve a group of enthusiastic volunteers, even if they don't know anything about Minecraft. Once they have experienced the environment for themselves and heard about some of the innovative ways it has been used in other schools, we think they will be keen to be involved.
We will arrange and lead these sessions in school but if you have teachers who are already knowledgeable and enthusiastic, running a CPD session in conjunction with them would work even better.
Working with students in MinecraftEDU
The most important factor is having a clear, achievable objective and a specific group or groups of students you feel would benefit from working in a MinecraftEDU (or virtual world environment). Such an objective might be motivating reluctant boys to write (click for Case Study) or supporting autistic children to improve their spoken communication or teaching spatial concepts to Year 6 & 7 pupils. Just playing MinecraftEDU with large groups of students will achieve little of educational value although it might be a lot of fun!
Our best advice about designing assignments or activities in Minecraft is to make them as open-ended and exploratory as possible. Your job as the teacher is to facilitate and scaffold their activities to ensure a particular educational outcome but don't try to micro-manage too much or your students will miss out on the best features of the environment - the ability to explore and experiment at will.
For example, in Maths, rather than 'planting' some Maths problems in the MinecraftEDU world for students to find and solve, ask them to build a structure which is 500m2. Each building block is 1 cubic metre. The act of building will give them the ability to talk about how you work out volume even if they don't know the right terminology.
For more ideas about how to use MinecraftEDU for your particular subject area, use the links on the right to Teachers' Forums and Wikis - lots of ideas there.
If you are interested in MinecraftEDU, you might also be interested in KerbalEDU - see the review and announcement here. Kerbal is a game about building a rocket which is capable of orbiting the earth - it gives feedback about trajectory, drag,