Today, my daughter (Megan, 10) and I went to a MassivelyMinecraft l33tMeet. Megan went to be with her MassivelyMinecraft mates IRL and I went to learn more about games-based learning (GBL), as a parent trying to understand the appeal of MassivelyMinecraft and as an educator to check out GBL and gamification everyone seems to be talking about lately….and yes, I’m totally a n00b, but I’m learning to play.
MassivelyMinecraft (MM) – no curriculum
Bron Stuckey talked about MM as a research into learning in the 3rd space, learning outside of school. It is a space where kids are leading kids and learn about digital citizenship by being digital citizens. Adults are there (@jokay*, @vormamim, @bronst) to guide but not to dictate. There is no curriculum but there are badges kids can aim to earn so they can level up, if they want to.
I won’t go into the details about MM here as if you’re interested, you’re really better off visiting the MM site.
What really struck me was what Bron called the small g and the big G. The small g is what kids learn in-game, e.g. building houses, fighting creepers, crafting potions. The big G is what kids learn through the game using MM as a framework, e.g. writing journals, making video tutorials, skyping (text and voice), screencasting, self-directed quests. The big G provides opportunities (heaps) to develop individuals and a community where kids lead kids and kids are comfortable to learn and I know that from Megan’s experience, that the learning is massive! ISTE’s NETS for students are met in MM.
Quest Atlantis (QA) – with curriculum
Bron briefly talked about Quest Atlantis. She said that educators can find the jump to no curriculum (MM) too big a leap which is why QA can be appealing. In QA, kids complete educational tasks through quests and missions.
Dean reckons all these is transferrable into other contexts – different virtual worlds (Second Life, OpenSim, etc) and books/texts (Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm, etc). Set up the big G and kids will learn. I can begin to see that it is possible, thanks to the l33tMeet. I can begin to appreciate that teachers are (can be? should be?), not so much teachers but, designers for learning.
Between you and me, I much prefer to use the terms small g and big G as against gamification and GBL.
*Jo didn’t “speak” today. She was busy doing what she does extremely well, “playing” with the kids in-world.
**I’m guilty of thinking how can I tick all the boxes in the curriculum with nary a thought that maybe the boxes are not enough; kids can do more.