The 2 weeks before March break I decided to try out MinecraftEdu with my class and Minecraft club.  I have nine Minecraft accounts and that limits the number of students I can have on in class, as well as my club size.  I also do not have the extra cash to buy 20 more account, and MinecraftEdu allows for many students to be in game at the same time without buying 30 copies of the game.  I was also hoping that MinecraftEdu would make our lives a little bit easier.  With the regular accounts I need students to open and set up the game, while I go around and individually input the password for each game since the account belong to me.  Each student gets a sign-in card that walks them through the set up of the game including the address of the server, and to which version to set the game.  Students use the laptops to access the game, and usually have to install the game every time they play; because they use different computers each time and the game is saved to the desktop and not to their home drives.  This process only takes about 5-10 minutes now, but in the beginning it took a lot longer.  One thing I like about MinecraftEdu, is that it is easier to set up and once a student has it set up in their home drive they can easily access it again.

Here are the steps I, and my students used to access MinecraftEdu for the first time:

  1. I downloaded and installed the game in my home drive. (Including setting up the server address, and installing mods.)
  2. I copied and pasted the file (MinecraftEdu) to the student ‘pick up’ folder (a shared folder).
  3. Students then logged on their computers and copied the MinecraftEdu folder they found in the ‘pick up’ folder and pasted it into their own home drive.
  4. Students open the file (MinecraftEdu) and click ‘startlauncher.jar’.  Then, MinecraftEdu opens and students click ‘Start MinecraftEdu’, and ‘Launch’ and followed the rest of the prompts made by the program to pick their names and skins.  They were then able to join the multiplayer server as a student.

Pretty straight forward.  Once a couple of students went through the process they were able to help the others do the same.  Using the TDSB share folders worked really well, but I have also heard that teachers have had the same success with sharing the files on a USB drive that gets passed from student to student.  The best part of this is that once the game was set up on a students’ account they did not need to go through the whole process again to play the next time -only step 4 is repeated*.

What I used to convince my students to try/switch to MinecraftEdu:

  • They got to choose their own name
  • No passwords or sign in card
  • They got to choose their own skin.
  • New mods

This worked for many of my students.  The ComputerCraft and qCraft mods were really interesting to my experienced players, who were initially reluctant to switch.  I knew almost nothing about these mods.   Liam (@liamodonnell) said they were great, and that was good enough for me.  In fact, one of my students, who was curious about these new mods, gave me the homework of researching ComputerCraft while he looked into qCraft.  The conversation ended with him giving me a high five and him setting a time to meet and exchange information. During club time, it was a couple of my Minecraft club members (one boy, and one girl) who instructed the other members -and me- on some of the things you could do with ComputerCraft.  We are still learning about qCraft.  When I asked one of my club members where he got his information from, he responded dryly with: “It’s called YouTube Miss Colby.”

What held some students back:

  • Not enough skins.  Specifically my students wanted the skins they were use to like; Cookie Monster and Mario, or the option to add ones they wanted themselves.
  • Students were also a bit reluctant to leave some of the builds they had started on the regular server that were not in the MinecraftEdu server.
  • Control issues.  Some students really didn’t like the idea of me being able to freeze them in place, or bring them to me whenever I wanted.  I told them I can teleported them to me at any moment on the regular server too, but they believe that since now all I have to do is press a button, rather than type their user names, I will be more likely to use this feature.  They may have a point.

In the end, most students made the switch over to MinecraftEdu.  The exciting thing about having students buy into the switch is I can now open up the club to more members, and have my entire class participate in Minecraft at the same time if I wanted.

*Unless we add new mods.  But that is a challenge for a different post.