Minecraft in the classroom

Thousands of schools across the country are using the video game Minecraft to engage students of all ages on topics ranging from career readiness to archaeology.


A popular video game is helping teachers inspire creativity in the classroom.

Thousands of schools across the country are using the game Minecraft to engage students of all ages in topics ranging from career readiness to archeology.

Let's take a look.

This is a teacher-training course for the video game Minecraft.

It's an open-world game, which means there are no specific goals for the player to accomplish.

Instead, the gamer uses creativity to explore and build things in this 3-D space.

Educators have latched onto the game to spark creativity and develop programming skills.

The 21st century skills and all what kids could use in their future careers.

The spectrum of things is so massive that we can't expect schools to be able to teach all of that, so how can we give examples to teachers and students that sparks their curiosity, and when they go back home, they carry on where they left at school?

Koivisto's company started supporting MinecraftEdu just a few years ago.

Now they have almost 6,000 schools engaged -- in the U.S., Europe, and Australia.

The spectrum of different uses is massive.

We have heard examples from kindergartens and career centers across all the subjects.

I don't really know what they are doing with the game in career centers, but, I mean, I would really love to visit one and see.

One of those users is this archeology and art history class at Chapman University.

They are creating an entire Greek city using Minecraft.

Professor Justin Walsh says the idea to teach with Minecraft just clicked.

It was a kind of 'Eureka' moment.

What happened was that I was trying to think of a better way to have students do a project in this class.

I thought, 'Ah!

I can really engage the students, give them an active learning opportunity by having them play this game, but also applying the principles of Greek urban planning in a really important -- like what they're learning on a regular basis in class.

They can apply that knowledge using Minecraft.

At first, Walsh's students didn't exactly share his enthusiasm.

I was actually extremely scared.

[ Laughs ] I'm not very good with computer games or video games or anything like that.

So, it actually, thankfully, was fun once I got into it.

I think once I got over the fear and I figured out how to plant an entire forest of flowers around my house... [ Laughs ] ...I was like, 'Okay, we can work with this.

It'll be fun.'

You can mess with things a lot more than we thought we would be able to, given that we're working with one-meter cubes.

Walsh says the immersive experience of technology enhances the learning process more than any lecture ever could.

I think that interaction or interactivity is really the difference.

We actually can just have a virtual space -- a sandbox, if you will -- for them to have success and to make mistakes.

And actually, both of those things are great.

I think it's a lot more engaging, it's a lot more immersive, and I think it just lets you have a much more hands-on approach to the material that you're also learning in other lectures and readings and discussions.

Back at the training, Koivisto says that kind of student/teacher success is what kept them going when they first began working with MinecraftEdu.

When we started getting e-mails and Skype calls from teachers that were like, 'This is really changing how I teach,' that sort of kept us going, although we were really making no money out of the company and so on.

And that has been going on so far, and I think that's the best evidence for us that we are doing something good.