Authors: Patricia Dillon- Marta Nattkemper- Alejandra Quaglia
Once the story was written and the 3D setting was created, the final step was putting the characters into action, and beginning the tours into the students’ worlds. This meant accessing their world from different computers, each student adopting a different character that would interact in their story. At this stage, we noticed that in each group, the students spontaneously split their roles into director, narrator and game supervisor. At this point, they faced the most challenging part of the project, assembling all the pieces together so as to match the character interaction in the setting, with their script. They had to make decisions, collaborate within the group and articulate the different pieces into a whole. They had to rehearse all this before the recording took place.
Let’s watch our students in action planning their final product
Once they felt they were ready, they started recording using a screencast software called Camtasia that allows you to capture onscreen activity, edit it and produce shared content. Now the roles were very clear, while one recorded, the others toured the setting and brought the characters to life at the right time and place.
Let’s watch them at this stage
The next step was the editing of the video, by either trimming clips or adjusting the volume. The students were so enthused with their final product that they strove for it to be the best possible outcome.
We will show below two different examples of the final product: the first one belonging to a group of low achievers, in which even though the students’ oral and written skills were weak, they were able to show their excellent game skills that contributed to enhance the story.
The second example corresponds to a group of high achievers whose story denoted a higher level of English, creativity and high order thinking skills. However, in spite of being stronger academically, the behaviour of the two groups while working was similar, as the engagement, dedication, and enthusiasm involved were similar too.
And if you still feel like watching one more…
Our Final Reflection
This experience highly exceeded our expectations. At first we went for a different learning methodology. We thought it was an interesting proposal to expose our students to the use of Minecraft, so that they could experience creating a story in a 3D environment, for this reason we offered it as an option for the final product of our Fantasy Story Project. We were interested in investigating about the students’ behaviour and their learning outcomes.
And as we believe that taking risks is always part of teaching and learning, this is what we did, we ventured into a world which was unknown to the three of us. We started investigating it and we found it fascinating. What we can already say is that in this rich exchange, we learnt more from our students than what we were able to teach them. Finally, we are glad to say that it is the first time that our IT labs were so full of children as they were now. Everybody was so engaged and enthused with the proposal, that they preferred staying inside working on MINECRAFT rather than going out to break!
Why choose Minecraft?
We believe Minecraft fosters and develops:
- Innovation: Their experiences in this learning situation enabled them to create in a completely different way. Students really enjoyed this environment which assured them unexpected learning outcomes.
- Creativity, Imagination and Spatial Vision: Students were actually creating something of their own which was unique. The prior knowledge the students brought enabled them to create something completely different to what they would have created in a traditional classroom.
- Teamwork and Collaboration: Students used three different computers to build and collaborate within the same 3D environment. They distributed the roles so as to be able to enrich their 3D story connected through a server and sharing the same screen. The enthusiasm of the group was never lost as they were trying to achieve their final goal. Students naturally split roles according to their specific skills
- Language Skills and Communication: There is a whole language basis the students use to discuss and communicate their decisions, to create, narrate and write their stories, to record their creations using Screencast, and to show and display their production.
- Self-confidence and Self-esteem: Students felt challenged and found a great satisfaction in this learning task. Low achievers, the same as high achievers, were able to contribute with their ideas as they were so engaged and motivated. Many of them had to change the original story structure, enriching it, since their stories had grown Thus, they were placed on the same level with the high achievers as they could demonstrate skills that had never bloomed.
- Higher Order Thinking Skills: Researchers that specialize in technology (Martinez, 2013) (Jenkins, 2003) found that game-based learning could raise cognitive learning, improve hand-eye coordination, problem solving ability and memory. It also extends kids’ spatial reasoning skills and understanding of planning.
- Technological Skills: students learned how to screencast and video editing but the most important aspect is that they brought their prior game skills and knowledge to school, enriching the project and building on our sector’s technology innovation
In these virtual worlds, students perform as co-designers of immersive learning experiences. This open world game is used to create rich and innovative teaching and learning experiences that encourage participation and collaborative learning opportunities.
The potential of this powerful environment will certainly multiply to other levels as well as to other disciplines, as it is an open platform, flexible and adaptable. In fact, it has already begun multiplying and expanding within our sector at school, to other grades and subject areas. (Younger students are already creating civilizations and games for others to play after seeing the older students working with Minecraft)
JENKINS, H (2003) Transmedia Storytelling. Moving Characters from Books to Films to Video Games can make them stronger and more compelling.
Martinez, (2013) Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom (Constructing Modern Knowledge Press,