This week I have been in beautiful Bangkok, Thailand presenting at the Bett Asia 2022 Conference. Among the numerous sessions I presented, one of the favourites was co-presenting with the incredible Glenn Malcolm from local Bangkok Patana International School. Glenn is a Minecraft Mentor and expert educator and what made this so special was I first connected with him way back in 2017 shortly after I joined Microsoft. He had stumbled across some of my blog posts on Minecraft: Education Edition and we connected over our shared love of game based learning and integrating this into our teaching and learning practice.
The session was well attended on the main stage in the exhibitor hall and Glenn shared three examples of how he has integrated Minecraft: Education Edition into his classes. As is his custom, Glenn makes all his sessions available on his own blog and he pre-recorded the session and it’s available here too:
Of course, this is not a recording of the live session we did so my contributions and questions are not included, but Glenn has generously made the resources he references available on his blog for anyone to access – I highly encourage you to check them out here.
I really appreciate the thoughtful approach Glenn brings to game based learning and his awareness of how this can integrate into virtually any curriculum area and across a wide age range. The noticeable thing from the videos he shared of his students was the way they articulated so much of their learning, especially around some of the soft skills such as the need to communicate and collaborate to accomplish the task set for them. To me, this highlighted one of the many benefits of game based learning – you get the instant engagement of “the game”, but you get so much of the learning skillsets developed “by stealth”. It struck me that as the students talked about what they did they used language such as “the challenge we faced was…..” and “the problem we had to overcome looked like….” and they were likely unconsciously connecting that challenge/problem with a specific learning outcome – they simply saw it as part of “the game”.
When we think about attributes of successful people in the work force, one thing that is prized is being able to clearly articulate the challenge/problem/blocker and then work collaboratively with a team to resolve that for the success of the business. An inability to clearly define a problem and then go about seeking a solution can lead to serious inefficiency and unproductiveness in the workplace. These students are demonstrably displaying those nascent skills through the gameplay of Minecraft in their classrooms. It’s that sort of link to developing the whole student (and not just the academic markers of traditional education) that keeps me so enthusiastic about this as a platform for teaching and learning.