Coding in Minecraft (2): Creating classrooms

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[0) Tenacity, 1)  Chicken rain, 2) Creating classrooms, 3) Coordinates, 4) Variables]

On Saturday, we did our second Minecraft morning’s lesson which was all about event-driven programming and matrix coordinates.

I still haven’t managed to buy any licences, but I did create accounts log-ins for each member of the family which had our organisation in them. This allowed everyone to log in, except me, of course, as I have used my free goes letting everyone else log in as me.

Theoretically, it should be easy to log in and buy licences but for some reason is not. I get stuck in a loop and I cannot just buy four licences. I could create users and their log-ins in my organisation. It then prompted me to assign licences, and warned me that it might be hard to do later on, but I hadn’t yet bought them at that point because of the Ground Hog Day loop I am in. At this point the easiest thing to do now seems to be that I create a new account, log in, create a new organisation and then buy four licences and then assign brand new users to them. Once I do that and if it is successful, I will write a separate post and link it back to the beginning so that other people can do the same and not have to read all the other posts.

All the faff aside, it was great fun during the last Minecraft morning, as we all signed in, me as the hubby – so that he was signed in twice. It was only when I was in that I realised that I should have created another account for myself so that I could be another user who could sign into my world, but I pressed on so that we didn’t lose anytime. We played with making parrots jump out of cakes as the player walked forward with the block ‘on player walk’ cause a cake to be positioned near by and a parrot to be spawned in the cake which made it looks like the parrot was jumping out of the cake.

I presented the slides so that we could talk about event driven programming. An event is something in the real world which causes something to happen. For example, when it rains, people open their umbrellas. When the door opens, some one comes in or out. Our parrot cake situation occurred when a player walked forwards. We did others too in the last session, when we walked leaving flowers behind us or writing our name in the sky.

Then we did some practising of coordinates : x, y, z by as we walked we created a yellow brick road and then later on a glass ceiling, by changing the y from 0 to 3, (so 0, 3, 0 instead of 0, 0, 0) as each Minecraft figure is 2 pixels high. Then, we practised spawning animals in relative places and so on.

Then my hubby invited everyone to his world with the share button. Of course I couldn’t get in because I was him so we couldn’t log in twice in the same world. To counter that, I created a new account, but because it was in a different organisation then I couldn’t log in because you can only join worlds which have been created in your own organisation, or the organisation of which you are a part. But, they had great fun teleporting to other players and saying hello to them, using blocks of events and coordinates combined.

By the time I had figured out how to join the same world, my eldest had built a classroom as the picture above shows in which to teach us history. She is having a history exam this week on the reasons for the outbreak of WWII. She created a board to write on down the key points and found out that you cannot write Hitler as it replaces his name with xxxxxx. I am guessing if she wants to learn/teach history we will have to go to the history area of M:EE, or perhaps we could just guess and get quite good at context. I am not sure how the rest of M:EE works yet as the slides and lecture notes are quite laborious and don’t give me all the context I would like even if they do use all the words with out xxxxx-ing things out. Though, I shouldn’t complain as it is way easier than figuring out a syllabus and and designing tutorials all by myself.

Anyway, my eldest got round the problem by lecturing us on ‘Itler’s Foreign Policy’ which was recognised and when we weren’t behaving ourselves chased us about until she decided to call the class to order. Alas she was laughing so hard that she punched the chalkboard instead of just pointing at it and destroyed the whole classroom. We decided that it was a sign that the lesson was over.

As I pondered what worked and what hadn’t, I decided that I need to reorganise the slides beforehand as they are structured for a classroom setting in which students listen to 3-4 slides, do a tutorial, stop, listen to 3-4 slides, do a tutorial, stop, etc. Theoretically there is no reason this shouldn’t work, but I’ve found in real life when lecturing undergraduates in a lab, students rarely do only one thing. They think they can listen whilst getting a jumpstart on the exercises, but it doesn’t work, they just do the tutorials and I am left at the front like Charlie Brown’s teacher going wah wah wah with no one listening until they ask me how to do something which they would know how to do had they been listening. It is not their fault, it is the context of the situation. In the end I used to ask my students to pull up their chairs to gather around the board away from their computers after I was inspired by the primary school approach of ‘carpet time’. In this way, I got their undivided attention so that we could discuss what they were going to do before they did it, but even then they didn’t always listen, it was a moment for them to gaze out the window or something before starting, so I would get asked the same questions. I think mixed learning approaches in one room isn’t always as effective as hoped.

It’s even more apparent that our Minecraft mornings are more of a casual huddle for a bit of a giggle as no one wanted to actually wanted to attend ‘class’ nor do anything until I opened my laptop and everyone heard the music came downstairs saw what I was up to and then went off to get their laptops and we started.

It seems too that our huddle would prefer to do slides first very quickly and then the tutorial and then the rest of the exercises straightaway – the ones in which they do their own thing. This is because once they get started playing in the world of Minecraft they don’t want to stop. They understand a lot of concepts such as event-driven programming already, it is just how to make that learning explicit. The slides are quite basic, but then so are the concepts, though the way it seems to reinforce the learning by dividing it up into tiny bites seems to be confusing us all, and then they have to do tutorials which are not on the slides, so need a handout which is quite long and which they don’t want to read.

Perhaps I too need to make a classroom in the virtual world and share information that way, it would be more compelling for us and much more of a giggle, it would mean ditching the slides and the handouts, but it would be worth it as so far, so good. We are enjoying our Minecraft mornings even if there is a resistance to beginning, but once we are in there is no stopping us, unless of course, one of the students blows up the classroom.

Now I just need to buy the licences and we are all set. Two lessons in and it is easy to see how great it is to be in a virtual world with cheat codes just like the film Free Guy. I can’t believe I waited so long. I am the Minecraft Mama.

[ 3) Coordinates]


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