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History Nerd Fest 2013 – Minecraft EDU and geography

Yes. It’s that time of year. National Council for the Social Studies conference time. This year? Saint Louis.

History Nerd Fest. Thousands of social studies teachers all in one place, having a great time learning as much as possible in two and half days.

I’ll be trying as best I can to live blog all of the sessions I attend. I’ll also try to align each of the sessions to my C4 Framework. Keep your fingers crossed! I’m usually pretty good for the first day or so but start dragging by Sunday.

And we’re off!

Minecraft to teach geography.

Minecraft is an online multiple user video game. It is incredibly popular. As of last week, 12, 781, 495 people have bought access to the online game.

And what they have done is to create an educational version called MinecraftEdu. You get access at half-price, resources, custom versions of the game for teachers, and libraries of in-game goodies.

There seems like tons of ways to use this for teaching – either the teacher creating their own “worlds” for kids to spend time in or by having students create their own worlds based on parameters suggested by the teacher.

There is a bit of a learning curve.

Yikes. The guy is going way too fast for most of the people in the room. An obvious gamer who has played the game a ton and a perfect example of the Curse of Knowledge. Lots of nerd language which just lost 1/2 of the room. The two presenters are slowly getting people on their version of the game and sharing ideas of how it might be used in class.

But also a perfect example of how learners will help each other – we’re all figuring it out together. Teachers will need to understand the basics of set-up and some idea of end learning goals but they need to trust the kids to figure this out as they go along.

Some good ideas:

  • geography themes
  • longitude and latitude
  • interactions with others
  • shelter
  • food
  • creating specific areas of the world
  • impact of humans on the environment

So . . . a nice overview of possibilities. It would be nice to have some sort of digital or hardcopy of the steps needed to set this up. Lots of interest but teachers need specifics for the beginnings of this. Doing a Google search for Minecraft tutorials gives you some help. Minecraft has a nice site for the general game. There are lots of people out there building and sharing stuff that you can integrate into your games.

A few resources I found:


C4 Framework alignment? Playing video games are incredibly powerful. The can be used to Collect information, Collaborate together, Create new products, and Communicate results. This is why video games ought to be in all of our classrooms – they can do so many positive things in the brains of our kids.

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