Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Minecraft: Personalized Learning

In reflecting on what examples/explanations we have of personalized learning, I thought of how engaged/obsessed my boys were with the game Minecraft.  I have seen them play but what I found particularly interesting was the premise of the game on this review website:

Minecraft's premise is incredibly simple. Dropped into a hostile world of blocky graphics, you use the tools at your disposal to create. Every surface and object in the world can be manipulated, harvested and combined in countless ways to create building materials, tools, mechanisms, and gadgets. You can join with other players or reign alone in your pixellated kingdom. 

The reviewer continues with a quote from the creator of Minecraft - Markus "Notch" Persson (same website):

"If something ever doesn't feel fun, I'll remove it. I believe that I can combine enough fun, accessibility and building blocks for this game to be a huge melting pot of emergent gameplay."  

I couldn't help but see how compelling an example this was of personalized learning.  I also wondered if the current educational environment resembles "a hostile world of blocky graphics"!  I am not an advocate of video games but I know there are things we can learn from their success, particularly for our boys, who have been falling behind for years.  The first thing that struck me was that, as in most video games, "YOU" are the driver/creator/leader/main character.  In other words the perspective that counts is the one seen through the eyes of the player/learner.

This reminds me of a recent report I just read by Kathleen McClaskey (@khmmc) and Barbara Bray (@bbray) that outlines the differences between personalized, differentiated and individualized learning.   Here again, they explained that in personalized learning, the emphasis is on the input from the learner whereas in the other two paradigms, the emphasis is on what the teacher does.  Here is the chart:
The second concept of Minecraft that stood out for me was the myriad of tools a player/learner could access and manipulate in order to create and make sense of their world.  I have previously blogged about the importance of a personal toolkit for the teachers and the students.  How diverse is the toolkit we provide our students and teachers?  Are they adaptable? The good news here is the exponential growth of TechEd tools that we an access for free.

Finally, to "create" is a fundamental element in both Minecraft and Education.  I just finished attending the ArtStarts showcase in Vancouver and was reminded once again of the congruous relationship between the arts and personalized learning.  Whether you reference Gardners' multiple intellegences or Rosenstock's work around project-based learning, the arts are the ultimate vehicle to student engagement and success.

Education is not meant to be entertainment but there's no reason why it can't be fun!

Have a great week,

1 comment:

  1. I like the analogy of the video game Minecraft to personalized learning...the student should be the driver and creator of their learning with the teacher guiding them along the path toward their goals. The idea of creating something innovative is exciting for any learner and I hope that is where we can go in schools with the implementation of project based learning. The chart helps to define the educational jargon - personalized, differentiated and individualized. Thank you! Interesting read! K. Boettcher