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1055 Willeo Road

Roswell, Georgia 30075

Roswell Students Build on Learning Experience with Minecraft

By Erika Wells

High Meadows School students in Roswell created a world of their own while testing a new version of Minecraft made for the classroom. This month, music director Paula Williams guided a group of nine sixth- and seventh-graders as they built a new school band room through the online game.

“It’s like a digital version of Lego [building blocks],” said Williams, who has taught the school more than a 10 years. “They can make any single thing that their mind can think of. That’s the beauty of it for them. They have total freedom.”

The progressive learning school applied through Microsoft and was selected as one of 100 schools in 30 countries to Beta test out Minecraft’s education edition. The edition is set for release in June when educators can download this early access edition, try it for free and provide feedback. It will be available in 11 languages and 41 countries for all ages.

Released in 2009, Minecraft involves using blocks to build things from houses to entire cities. Mojang is the Swedish video game developer owned by Microsoft that is behind the phenomenon.

The “sandbox game” in which uses can freely move through a virtual world, is played by millions of people around the globe. The game is accessible on desktop computers, game consoles and mobile devices.

For the education edition, Williams said her focus was on how students and teachers collaborate to create a finished product. The purpose of the game is to supplement lesson plans and share learning ideas.

Teachers can control what the students do online while they are in class—which has not discouraged them from experimenting.

“I’ve been doing very well personally,” said sixth-grader Rebecca Fishman, 12. “It’s very fun and a great way to learn. It’s good if you’re better learning with audio or visuals because it’s a combination of both; it makes you love learning.”

There are several new options students can use that are not in the basic version of Minecraft.

“They like that they’re testing something that they love,” Williams said. “They know they’re testing it so other students can use it in their classrooms. And they’re excited that it’s secret; they can’t tell anybody about the new tools.”

Over the last two years, Williams has led the integration of a previously released version of Minecraft into the school’s music curriculum. She said parents are enthusiastic about the program; however, traditional teachers may need a bigger a learning curve. Williams said she hopes teachers and the general public will be open to technology and learning with their children.

“At first [teachers] may be scared; it’s hard to let go of the reins and be vulnerable and tell students I don’t know as much as you do about it, especially teachers from my generation—I was that teacher, too,” Williams said. “We’re used to being the ones who know everything.”

In the future, she will help host a Twitter chat seminar to provide instruction for other interested users.

Article may be found: Roswell Students Build On Learning Experience With Minecraft

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1055 Willeo Road
Roswell, Georgia 30075



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