Swedish School Now Has A Mandatory Minecraft Class

minecraft schoolGamification and project-based learning have jumped into the 21st century at the Viktor Rydberg school in Stockholm, Sweden where all 13-year-old students must now take a manadatory course on Minecraft. For those not familiar, Minecraft is a video game that lets you use blocks to build up just about whatever you want in a virtual world. You can then show off, share, and learn from what others are building in a safe and virtual environment.

‘They learn about city planning, environmental issues, getting things done, and even how to plan for the future,’ Viktor Rydberg teacher Monica Ekman told English-language newspaper The Local. ‘It’s not any different from arts or woodcraft,’ she added.”

It’s like getting students to become ‘makers’ (another popular buzzword these days) while leveraging a tried-and-true virtual game that’s popular around the world.

Lessons Learned

Here are a few of the lessons learned in the course (first few from Gizmag):

  • City planning
  • Environmental issues
  • Getting things done
  • Planning for the future
  • Interactivity
  • Safe online habits
  • Building and making objects using your creativity
  • Computer skills

 

13 Comments

  1. Marianne Malmstrom

    January 18, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    As an educator who has developed a Minecraft program in school for grades 8-13, I have spent a great deal of time educating parents, administrators and colleagues about the incredible learning embedded in games. That being said, it troubles me deeply when educators “edufy” games rather than taking the time to understand the unique learning inherent in the play itself.

    Inspired by the philosophy of Massively Minecraft, we made a conscientious decision at my school not to develop any curriculum using Minecraft until we spent a great deal of time simply playing with students in order to understand how they used the platform. Brilliant! The kids took us further with their imagination than any “lesson” we could have contrived. After nearly two years, their enthusiasm for this particular game remains constant. Free play continues to be a staple that feeds ideas for formal curricular projects. As teachers, we have become co-learners with our students. The programs we have built together are far more complex and engaging than any “lessons” we have designed for them.

    While I’m encouraged that educators are taking a greater interest in games I worry when I see schools co-oping wonderful platforms like Minecraft to “teach” content. They are missing the point. And, just for the record, once anyone is required to “play” a game, it is technically no longer a game. So, instead of “requiring” students to play games in order to “learn” lessons that we want to “teach” them, why don’t we give ourselves “permission” to simply join our kids and “play”. We just might be surprised by what we learn. Perhaps, we will even start to redesign education based on what we learn.

    • Jeff Dunn

      January 18, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      Great point Marianne. I especially love the point about when someone is required to play a game … it’s not a game. Brilliant.

  2. jokay

    January 18, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    Couldn’t agree more, Marianne! As the Server Admin / Facilitator of Fun @ Massively Minecraft I watch kids from around the world engaged in joyful, collaborative play. Our servers are busy 15-20hrs per day / 7 Days a week. We are not a school or a formal learning program – rather a space to play and learn together as a community. No one is required to play…but they never stop!

    The Massively kids are not required to complete lessons or participate in formal activities, and yet the learning that goes on in our community is constant and often at the speed of light. It is not my role to teach the kids, rather to play and learn WITH them. It is not my role to design learning activities or prescribe how they should play, rather to support their ideas and cheer them on as they collaborate, discover and create together. I believe these kids will play and learn together for many years to come, across many platforms. They have created a learning community that is kid-powered, deeply bonded and connected across games, forums, skype and various other online tools. The skills they are learning in how to work, play and collaborate online are truly 21st century skills.

    Gaming in education offers us some amazing opportunities, but I also worry what happens when we take that joyful, playful learning and try to bend it to fit within existing educational models.It is time to take a step back from lesson plans and control mechanisms and learn from and with kids!

    • Barbara J

      January 18, 2013 at 9:14 pm

      Well said jokay… and if I can just point out that once again the school community could learn from Early Childhood settings.
      What jokay has described we call an emergent curriculum and what she does as a facilitator is scaffolding children’s learning. It’s no secret that young children learn through play and I really don’t understand why the system changes so drastically once they begin ‘formal education’. I’ve seen the jokaydian Minecraft kids learn every single one of those ‘lessons’ listed (in addition to many many more psycho-social and communication skills).
      A program like this Swedish Minecraft class could easily incorporate the child-focussed planning that we do in early childhood that supports the individual strengths and needs of children and follows their interests.

  3. Lucas Gillispie

    January 18, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    Fantastic! We too have been using Minecraft in our district for nearly two years, now, and have seen incredible things. Whether using the environment to support state-mandated learning objectives (yes, we have to do this, and yes, it’s way better than a worksheet) or allowing our students to follow their own pursuits through creative play (we also get to the do this), our learners, from elementary to secondary levels, never cease to blow me away with their creations and interactions. Too often, we underestimate our kids!! We need to give them the tools and freedom to express their learning. Minecraft is a perfect platform for this.

  4. Paul

    January 20, 2013 at 9:06 am

    I’m a 10 year old British kid and my dad showed me this. I play on Minecraft but I downloaded a new version called Technic and it makes you learn even more. It includes more industrial things like quarries and muck more wild life like horses you can ride, snakes,lions,bears and even sharks. It is generally more scientific and you can learn a great deal from it.

    • Lisa

      January 27, 2013 at 8:08 am

      Paul – thank you for your input!! My own children love playing it (twin 13-year-olds) and would love this extension. I will tell them about it.

  5. Anonymous

    January 20, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    I read one of the original posts, and I found a amusing response:

    “How to take a wonderfully imaginative product where learning happens automatically and ruin it:
    Step one: Pick something kids are already learning from.
    Step two: Create “lessons” for it.
    Step three: Pick arbitrary age it must be “taught” at.
    Step four: Make it compulsory.
    Schools ~ sucking the joy out of learning worldwide. :-/ ”

    I personally feel that by making something which due to its creative aspect is fun into a mandatory lesson which eliminates that aspect ruins the educations perspective of it. In conclusion, I feel more thinking is needed.

  6. Greg

    January 20, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    I have a blast with Jokay on her massively server – I do not feel like it is leaning at all but I guess learning to post pictures and making cool stuff with friends is sorta learning. I think if i was forced to play that it would make it not as fun. I wouldnt want to play then/

    • Mitch Perham

      January 30, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      You can learn ALOT from the mechanics of the game, especially redstone. =P

  7. Kat Neuffer

    January 20, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Hi I’m Kat Neuffer and I am a 10th grader at Highline Big Picture Highschool, a small school in Seatac, Washington. I run a class at my school where I teach the Kids in my school about minecraft and about ways they can work together. My teacher last year enspierd me to run a class and so I did. I just wanted to say that this is an amazing idea and you just gave me more ideas about what I should teach my Students.

    Thankyou
    Kat Neuffer

    • Lisa

      January 27, 2013 at 8:12 am

      Kat, that is incredible!! Good for you!! May I ask how you teach them without making it a “lesson”? Or do you just teach them how to play and let them do their thing? I don’t think we could get away with that in our class.

  8. Lisa

    January 27, 2013 at 8:19 am

    Bron, this sounds incredible. I have twin 13-year-olds (one boy, one girl), and they both absolutely love Minecraft!! They even got me hooked!! I am not good at it at all, but see the incredible opportunity for learning with it. I am a 4th grade teacher and would love to implement this in my class. For example, we will be teaching about how laws are made, etc., and think it would be a great platform for them to create a town and all the elements that go with it, while learning. I know people are nay-saying the idea of bringing in curriculum, but after listening to what others were saying, I think if I teach the curriculum and then have students “create” what they learned – without lessons, just creating, that this would be a great way to see how they have learned what I taught. Good idea?? Bad idea?? We are an inner-city school in Nashua, NH, and have a lot of demands on us… I would never be able to bring something in just for “play”. I have seen first-hand how much they do learn with it through my own children, but try explaining that to an administrator…. How could I get this in my classroom is my question?? Is it hugely expensive?? We have comuter access, but I’m not sure what the demands are on a computer as far as memory, etc. What, in your opinion, would be the best way to approach the desire to have this in the classroom?? I would love any feedback.