Student-led Blaze attacks on your server can be avoided with the right plugins. (But every once and a while, they’re fun!)

Last November, the GamingEdus Minecraft server celebrated its first year anniversary.

In the time, I’ve learned that running a Minecraft server for teachers and students takes 3 Ps: Patience, Persistence and Plugins. I can’t help you with the first two. But with the third P, Plugins, I got you covered.

Here’s a list of my Five Essential Plugins for educators running a Minecraft server in school.

Caveats and Definitions

These are five plugins I think educators running a server should start off with. This isn’t a list of all the plugins I run on our servers, but it’s the ones I think no teacher or student running a school server should be without. In the future, I’ll post about the other plugins I use, the ones that add a lot of fun and complexity to our game world.

Another caveat: I use Craftbukkit to run my servers, so all these plugins will be the CB versions.

A Definition: Okay, I hear some of you asking: “What the heck is a Minecraft plugin?” A plugin is basically software that you install into your server files, that allow you and your players to do some pretty cool stuff. As you’ll see below.

Instructions on how to install plugins are usually found on the pages of each plugin, which I link to in my descriptions.

Ready? Okay, here we go.

Five Essential Minecraft Plugins for Educators

1. Essentials

This wins the prize for being the most useful plugin and the most aptly named, because it is essential to have if you’re running a server. Essentials is actually a collection of smaller plugins that allow you to set player spawn points. organize players into different groups with varying levels of permissions (Admins, moderators, players, etc) and much, much more. It’s the first plugin I install on every new server I set up.

2. World Guard

This is a protections plugin that can stop griefing in it’s tracks. It allows admins to protect existing builds from being destroyed, it can lock down building in certain areas, stop players from using TNT or lava and a lot more. If you want to have control over what players can and cannot do, then this is a key plugin.

3. Residence

Like World Guard, Residence is a protection plugin. The beauty of this plugin is that it lets players easily set their own protections. They can quickly protect their builds from others without having to ask an admin to do it for them. This works really well in student servers where griefing (even accidental) is a reality.

4. Backup

This plugin can be a life saver and a world saver. It automatically creates a back up zip file of all your world files. Crashes happen and world files can get corrupted. When this happens entire worlds simply won’t load properly again and everything in that world is gone. Forever. I’ve seen it happen. That’s why having a regular, set it and forget backup system is crucial. I’ve had to revert to a saved world file more than once in the year of running GamingEdus.

5. LWC

This is another protection plugin for players to use. With a few simple commands they can lock checks, doors, furnaces and dispensers. They can also password protect blocks to allow access to only approved players. It’s very handy in survival world. This GamingEdus Basics video explains how it works:

Five is Just the Beginning

That’s my five essential plugins for educators. As I said earlier, I run many more plugins on my servers, but these five are the first ones I install on any new server I set up.

What are your Essential Five Plugins for Teachers? Let us know in the comments below.

And if you’re an educator interested in seeing first hand how these plugins work, visit us on the GamingEdus Professional Play server. It’s a multi-age server for Minecraft-curious teachers and their families to play the game, connect with other educators and have fun. We’re very newbie-friendly, generously hosted by the EDGE Lab at Ryerson University and open 24/7.

Fill out a whitelist application to the Gamingedus server if your interested.

[This post originally appeared on Feeding Change on Feb. 24, 2013.]