Minefaire Is For You

Minefaire is a celebration and an opportunity. If you don’t know what it is, Minefaire is a roaming Minecraft convention that brings together creators and educators and players of all ages. It is a remarkable event that should be on your list of things to do. 

The beauty, the wonder of Minecraft is the flexibility baked into its philosophy and game mechanics. It is the single worldwide software building tool in millions of homes that has openness at its core – there is room for endless development and expansion. 

At Minefaire, you can see diversity of thought and creation – and even better you can meet the people who make maps, games, lessons, and artwork in Minecraft. The community is kind, creative, generous, and full of positive energy. For those who have wondered if all this gaming can turn into a business – absolutely, and there are multiple entry points at Minefaire for young people to get engaged and encouraged to convert their play into other ventures.  

Learning and the relationship to knowledge changes when computers and computing are the mediators between people and ideas. This a fundamental principle driving change in schools and Minefaire is a great example of what happens when we rethink our view of the classroom. 

Minefaire Los Angeles 2019 taught us a lot: Code original programs, customize default behaviors, animate your structures, create stunning two-dimensional art, explore art museums, immerse into mathematical concepts, repurpose Minecraft as a green screen soundstage, design your own games, and get inspired to find your own path and purpose. 

With a wide variety of material demonstrated in the Learning Lab and on the Inspiration Stage at Minefaire, you can discover new ideas all day long. And with professional game designers and production studios setting up extensive gameplay booths for all day play, you can also deeply explore highly specialized multiplayer Minecraft sessions – even in virtual reality. 

The heart of Minefaire resides in education. Yes, you will have fun; you will also learn. Your excitement for what you can do will grow. And why is this so? Because Steve Isaacs, champion of all-things-gaming, is a lifelong educator and organizer of Minefaire. He teaches game design in New Jersey public schools and has garnered great respect from educators and creators alike for his insight, initiative, and innumerable contributions to Educational Technology. 

Thanks to Steve Isaacs, an incredible array of gamers, educators, and creators flock to Minefaire every year in many cities to join this celebration and opportunity. All ages, all experience levels, all career interests, we all show up to see done what we never thought of doing, and we connect with each other to form new projects. 

There is room in this convention to showcase well-known personalities alongside people who passionately want to build an audience – this tells you that Minefaire is about creating an inclusive environment. Official Microsoft Global Minecraft Mentors are there in full force alongside novice volunteers. The same philosophy of Minecraft’s open sandbox environment applies to how Minefaire organizes and includes its vendors, educators, and creators. And this extends to all the attendees. If you play Minecraft every day or if you are just starting to think about it, Minefaire is for you. 

See you at the next one! 










Minecraft Education Tweet Meet

On 09/17/19, I will participate as a host in a global Twitter chat regarding Teaching and Learning with Minecraft. I appreciate this opportunity, and I thank Microsoft and TweetMeet for extending it.

Minecraft as an educational tool sparks my imagination and gets me excited about school, thinking, inventing, and creating every day. Since the game’s inception, I have been playing with my adult friends, my child, and all of my child’s friends. I have created summer camps for kids, brought the game to my classroom as a teacher, taught adults and educators how to play, and engaged in years of building and dreaming with friends across the globe. When #MinecraftEdu became an official software development of Microsoft, I knew that we would see great things ahead.

Learning about Minecraft Irish Elks

We are there. The great things are happening now. Minecraft: Education Edition has opened up new potentials, new possibilities, new ways to dream and think with computers. If you can think it, you can build it. With a refreshed collaborative spirit towards teaching, learning, thinking, and building, Minecraft: Education Edition could be the next best school we have not yet made.

Students ought to think with computers, but too often teachers place them at computers. The computer is an object-to-think-with.

One problem facing computer use in the classroom resides in their long history of sitting in the corner or up against the wall. Even though we frequently use computers as a software terminal kiosk, we have also known for a long time that there was another way to work with computers and students. Minecraft is one of those other ways — so what are you waiting for?

I spotted a Minecraft Irish Elk

Students ought to think with computers, but too often teachers place students at computers. The computer is an object-to-think-with — an opportunity to extend and augment the human brain, not a push-button right-wrong answer machine. Minecraft: Education Edition has so much built in and ready-to-use. And with so much potential for you to build on your own, it will change school forever.

On 09/17/19, at 10am Pacific Time, an incredible group of educators worldwide will participate in a Twitter discussion about using Minecraft for teaching and learning. I hope you will join in, share some ideas, learn some ideas, and begin or continue your own journey into rethinking education with students.

Minecraft, could it be a school?

Thanks to @mgrundel and @PBJellyGames, I was recently the host of a Twitter chat on the #MinecraftEdu hashtag. I wanted to discuss what might happen if educators create a school that uses Minecraft as its main creation tool. I was particularly interested in engaging in conversation about how we understand our current use of Minecraft within Education.

When we play MinecraftEdu we are actively engaged in a great number of important and essential competencies that the chat participants identified:

  • critical thinking
  • design thinking
  • computational thinking
  • non-linear thinking
  • collaborative problem solving
  • creativity
  • game design
  • automation
  • engineering
  • historical research

The chat participants defined what we do in Minecraft for Education that aligns nicely with pedagogy currently taught in schools of education at the graduate level:

  • students as co-creators of learning experiences
  • organic collaboration of teachers and students
  • students demonstrate what they’ve learned in a personally meaningful manner
  • teachers learn from students
  • students push at the edges of teacher expectations and create an expansion of a lesson or unit

The conversation went further to include more ideas about how Minecraft in Education could be used to draw out other skills, achievements, behaviors, and ‘achievables’ that support the work being done in students meeting benchmarks and standards:

  • multitude of pathways to solve problems
  • multitude of problems that could be created to solve
  • experimental storytelling
  • iterative processes
  • conflict resolution skills and processes
  • students happily returning to their work to expand and grow
  • students writing resources for Minecraft

Interestingly, very few participants had experiences in teacher preparation programs or schools of education that prepared them as educators to face the differentiated classroom. And as classroom curricula become more standardized, meeting the varied needs of all learners in one room has become increasingly more difficult. Therein lies my interest in not only amplifying student voice, choice, and inquiry, but also trying out the idea of MinecraftEdu as the primary creation tool. So far, it is the single piece of software that allows for collaborative work in a range of content areas.

Ending with the big question about how Minecraft can serve as a tool to help us figure out larger social justice issues, we looked at the work being done here: Block by Block. Video games can help us improve real life for real humans. If you are interested in joining me in the push to make a MineSchool, where MinecraftEdu is the main creation tool used by all students for all sorts of interests and inquiries, please contact me. Thank you, @MeenooRami and @PlayCraftLearn, for the opportunity to be a 2018 Global Minecraft Mentor (by the way, it’s 2021, and I’m still a mentor).