Minecraft in Pender

Most of this blog post was written several days ago

Lucas is explaining how fifth graders are using Minecraft to develop writing skills

This morning, the first info-bit to really start my motors was this Twitter post from

@dwarlick Please elaborate about Pender County and Minecraft. I’d love to hear your opinion on this.

..which resulted from a tweet that I posted from the MEGA meeting at the Friday Institute yesterday.

Pender County’s using Minecraft with 5th graders. Why am I not surprised? #ncsu_mega

Pender County is one of the quieter, flatter, more humid and scarcely populated counties in North Carolina. It consists of seven towns, none of which have you heard of, including two beach communities on the Onslow Bay. But they’ve got some interesting things going on in their schools. I’ve written about Lucas Gillispie before. He’s a young educator and a gamer — and one of a handful of teachers who have been, for the past couple of years, asking, “Might I use this video game experience to reach some of the harder-to-reach students in my school?” Teaming up with New Yorker, Peggy Sheehy, and now others, Gillispie is exploring the potentials of using multiplayer role-playing video games to help learners develop problem solving, collaboration and reflection skills, and to become story tellers.

Markus Persson (cc) by Navaboo

So, at yesterday’s MEGA meeting, he had a booth set up demonstrating Minecraft, and talking about fifth graders who are using this tamer (my supposition) video game to develop some of the same skills. For those who are not in the know, and I learned this from my son, Minecraft is currently being developed by Markus (Notch) Persson, a Swedish game developer who left gainful employment to work independently. With proceeds from the hundreds of thousands of paying Minecraft players, he has formed the company, Mojang.

The game is a 3D sandbox-style game where you mine for materials or resources and use them to build stuff. More recent versions of the game involve health points and other game dynamics, but it remains, essentially, a sandbox.

I asked Lucas where this gaming activity belongs in an elementary school, and after giving some really good answers from a rethinking how we do schools perspective, he finally said, language arts. They have only started this with 5th graders, but their plan is to have students play, build, experience the adventures and then write to audiences about those experiences.


Pano of one room of exhibits at MEGA Mtg – May 4, 2011

Also, this is my first test of Blogsy, a blog editing app for the iPad. I like it!

Was Going to be About a New RSSReader

My favorite seat, outside Bruegger’s Bagels, across from American Airlines gates, bound for places many hours away.

It was a little disconcerting that during my recent train trip to New York and address presentation to the faculty of the Delaware Valley School District in Pennsylvania, I pulled out my iPad only once, other than to show it to my brother (who’s in advertising, so nothing new to him). What brought the device out was some tweaking I wanted to do my online handouts blog, after the Mac was already setup on stage and playing some music over the house sound. To be fair, it’s one of the main uses that I had in mind when I bought the thing.

But I have mentioned before that I have been reading a lot more since purchasing my iPad, especially keeping much more abreast of my RSS feeds than ever before. I do not believe that it’s the novelty of the device (it’s not about the technology). Instead, it’s exactly what educator-bloggers have been complainining about — the iPad is an information consumption machine. That’s right. The problem is that when I’m at my Mac, I am producing. I’m blogging, programming, planning a presentation, or some other form of making. Sitting and reading is a waste of a good mouse and keyboard.

The iPad, on the other hand is a screen that connects to the web and gives me access to stuff that I can read, watch and listen to. I’m not satisfied with that, especially when thinking about the ideal learning tools for formal learners — and I’m continuing to try to push the device as a production tool, not to equal a laptop, but to serve the general functions of learning by doing.

I started this blog entry to talk about a new RSS reader I’m trying on my iPad, Google Reader being mildly problematic. But since then (last night) I’m back with Google, until something else comes up.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad