Sunday, August 24, 2014

Four things your students can learn from watching Minecraft videos

My two youngest kids have been playing minecraft for quite a long time. For those who are not familiar with minecraft think of a game platform with lego like blocks of many kinds that allows you to create or explore worlds created by others.

This summer, however, my kids got hooked on YouTube videos documenting the adventures of of others online. An example can be the Dumb and Dumber videos for an example click on the pic to the right. 

In the beginning I thought this was just a way to pass the time when they did not have access to Netflix or were not allowed to play (we have restriction on play time). Soon I found out that they sometimes prefer to watch the videos over other shows. This is something that is hard for me to understand. I like playing games but watching somebody else do it? That's something you do when you run out of quarters...

The phenomenon intrigued me. Why watch someone else play? Well I started with the obvious and asked my kids what they liked about it. Their answer was simple, we just like it. When I watched carefully I discovered a few ways that the videos afforded a great learning opportunity.

1. The video makers usually play in pairs or even three and a majority of the video centers around their collaboration. This model of collaboration has actually helped my kids learn to collaborate while playing and I even hear them produce a banter similar to the ones online.

2. In the videos that are usually in survival mode and require the players to solve many challenges. Since audio is a huge part of the attraction they actually produce something akin to a think aloud while engaged in problem solving. This model helps viewers get a window into complex problem solving.

3. Following different videos and finding new ones are part of information literacy skills that my kids who usually spend very little time on YouTube developed rather quickly.

4. The videos often share the creativity of the creators by sharing approaches ideas and actions. They provide a great model of divergent thinking and the joy of creation.

In short the videos provide a model for engagement with 21st century skills. As adults struggle to provide relevant 21st century models finding worthy individuals willing to share what and how they engage in creative activities provides exceptional learning opportunities.

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