Flooding? No problem! Hold virtual class in Minecraft

It was an experiment. Thanks to ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald, the University was closed for a second (unprecedented) day due to storm damage, flooding and risks to students and staff. So I posted a notice on our class learning management system web site that we should use the opportunity for a “Mineclass.”

At 10am, everyone started logging in and, although it was clearly not as immediate and focussed as F2F, t worked! I reviewed my slides and asked a lot of questions about the readings. The students were awesome (as usual), especially when I started handing out XP for participation! Hint for Ops /xp <number> <gamertag>.

Our avatars were all present in the virtual lab that models our actual classroom. For a serious Minecrafter, it would have been lame, but we were just there in another IM Chat environment except that we had a proximal model of our real-world room and the affordances of gestures and the occasional brandishing of TNT. After 1:39 minutes without a break, we wrapped up class, having gone through the lesson and covering all the points in my Prezi. We ran out of the building and set off fireworks! Participatory culture in the “classroom.”
Mineclass

The Foundation Has Been Laid

In January 2013, eleven Gold Coast university students in interactive media, communications, law and business along with one professor (with the help of his sons) laid the foundation for the MinecraftUni Project. They began to re-create their small, independent university in Minecraft as a way to explore the potential that collaborating on a virtual environment for the purposes of studying in that environment offers for higher education, learning and teaching. This site is about that journey, which started something like this …

MinecraftUni

This is the start of the MinecraftUni Project.

As of this post, we have readied the library to hold our texts (the lecturer’s subject lecture notes and the students’ research reports) and the campus after just one week of collaborative building looks something like this on the outside …

Week 2

After one week of collaboration, the outside just scratches the surface of the productivity from MinecraftUni.

And academically, the virtual campus became more receptive on the inside …

MinecraftUniLibrary

MinecraftUni turns increasingly academic.

And the best outcome has been a sense of discovery, growing understanding and social cohesion. Isn’t that what Universities seek to achieve?