Engaging Student Learners with eSports in Minecraft: Education Edition

I am a big fan of learning through game based scenarios and have blogged about both digital and physical tools to support this in the past. For example, the “Play Impossible” balls are one of the best integrations of technology and kinesthetic learning modalities I’ve come across recently – read the full blog post here. By contrast, taking Shakespeare and Charles Dickens and recreating entire fictional worlds inside of Minecraft is a great way to engage literacy skills into play – see the post here. The second post is particularly useful because in the second half of the blog I reference a lot of the research from James Paul Gee, who many see as the ‘god father’ of game based learning research.

In that context, the announcement today that the Minecraft: Education Edition team are releasing an eSports group of worlds and teaching resources is a very welcome addition that extends the existing game based learning features in Minecraft.

As always, I encourage you to read the original blog announcement here.

I’ve talked to many educators, both K-12 and Higher Education, that are already leveraging the huge engagement levels that eSports provides to drive learning outcomes in new modalities.  The future of eSports is huge – don’t believe me?

In 2019 a 16yr old won the Fortnite World Cup, pocketing a cool USD$3,000,000 in prize money. This is comparable with the US Open tennis champs and Tiger Woods’ winnings at Augusta – see the story here.

Suffice to say, students are down for eSports. As educators, there is a real opportunity to use eSports as the hook to drive interest and engagement in platforms that also drive robust learning outcomes.

eSports in Minecraft: Education Edition

eSports 1'

A number of resources have been released by the M:EE team to support educators getting started with eSports, and unquestionably the starting point is the rich OneNote NoteBook here:

 

Along with the OneNote above, there are seven specific worlds and lessons that students can get started with:

  • Pirate Cove: Enter an immersive pirate-themed world to take part in build competitions on the high seas. 
  • Space Race: Students visit another world as they compete in build battles set against the backdrop of space. 
  • Gold RushStudents travel back in time to a 19th-century Gold Rush town to compete in team-based builds in the Old West. 
  • Busy Bees: Shrink your students down to the size of a bee, then set them loose in an enormous back yard for the battle of the buzz. 
  • Binary Builders: Enter a gigantic computer where students compete in build battles amid a jungle of circuitry. 
  • Splat Racers: A surreal fantasy racecourse is the setting for competitive builds. Set your students’ creativity free as they dream up fantastic imagery! 
  • 3D Print: Students take their places inside giant 3D printers, then compete in build battles. 

Going Deeper With eSports in Minecraft

If you want to go even deeper, then I suggest you check out:

Final Thoughts

It’s easy for adults to be wary about game based learning and what the actual outcomes are for students. To overcome this, there is a wealth of research available to show the impact that learning via gaming can have for students and adults alike. I know of adult training courses (such as nursing) that use game based learning platforms to drive best practice training engagement and of course specialist sectors like policing and armed forces have been using game based learning for years to provide experiences to their employees.

Leveraging research and a clear strategy with measurable outcomes are critical when preparing to implement an eSports curriculum in your school and I also recommend engagement with your student population. Allow their voice and interests to drive some of the messaging and desired outcomes – they will be your best advocates!

I am always keen to discuss what I've written and hear your ideas so leave a reply here...

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