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#MinecraftLA: Who drives the learning?

Many people speculate that Minecraft will change education.


For me, the bigger question is: Will Minecraft change education, or will education change Minecraft?

The jury is still out on that question, but we might find some clues by examining the following question raised at #MinecraftLA, an education summit sponsored by Microsoft FuseLabs and Connected Camps:

Q1: What are the differences between teacher-driven and student-driven learning?

There was a great deal of tension that surfaced at the summit surrounding this question. Truth is, this is a debate that has existed long before Minecraft. Educators have been discussing and arguing about this, in terms of best practices, for a very long time Think: Skinner v. Vygotski & Piaget. What brings Minecraft to the debate is that it is a perfect platform for classroom use because kids love it and the game is so flexible that it can easily be adapted to multiple uses.

KQED’s Mineshift refers to Minecraft as: “… 'the Teachers’ Ultimate Multi-Tool".

I often use this clip when I present, asking teachers if they agree that Minecraft is the perfect “Teachers’ Tool”. It always is a great conversation starter… whose tool is it? Is it a TEACHING tool, or is it a LEARNING tool?

At first, this question may seem like splitting hairs. Isn’t it all the same, teaching & learning? I don’t think so.

To add confusion to the debate, we now need to look at the learning taking place outside of school- without us! This conversation would be incomplete if we ignored youth-driven learning.

Listen as my students in explain the bumper car ride they developed on our 24/7 server.

As a teacher, can you identify the learning that is embedded in their play?

I will do my best to unpack the following concepts based on my own observations and perspective:

Teacher-Driven: teachers determin learning paths, decisions driven by curriculum/outcomes
Student-Driven: students influence learning paths with teacher guidance *typically driven by pre-determined curriculum/outcomes
Youth-Driven: outside of school, driven by “play” and individual/group interests

I invite colleagues to weigh-in and to consider contributing through guest posts. So, here goes…


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