Teachers n00b it up on the GamingEdus Professional Play Minecraft server at Brock University. (photo by: Zoe Branigan-Pipe)

There’s nothing better than introducing people to a video game for the first time. It’s the reason we started the GamingEdus Project and recently, I was lucky enough to do just that.

Yesterday, myself and Zoe Branigan-Pipe had a chance to talk all things Minecraft to teachers at the 2014 Brock University Technology Showcase.  As you can see from the picture above, everybody got their game on and there was much fun (and learning) to be had.

Zoe is very experienced with using Minecraft with her students, so I was honored to join  her in showing teachers, ranging from veteran practitioners to teacher-candidates, the opportunities for learning in the game.

But we weren’t alone. One of Zoe’s amazing students came along to run tech support and help out the n00b teachers when the had dug themselves into a hole. He also spoke to the teachers about how using video games has led to some pretty amazing learning at his school. That’s him in the right side of the photo, blurry because he’s running from teacher to teacher helping them out of lava and generally being awesome.

Open Play is the Best Teacher

Before our sessions started, we launched Minecraft on each of the computers and logged them into our Professional Play Server. As the teachers entered, we invited them to sit down and play and explore. This group was definitely game (sorry) and many dove right in and started exploring. There was laughter, confusion and many, many questions. It was awesome.

What happened in that classroom at Brock U is the whole reason why we created Professional Play server: to let teachers play with Minecraft before they start thinking about all the teaching stuff.  That is how many of the so-called “Minecraft-gurus” first experienced the game. It’s how many of our students first experienced the game: at home, with their family and friends, exploring and noobing it up.

I’ve written about the importance of teachers playing before and I was so happy to see a group of fellow educators doing just that. And they didn’t stop playing.

Still Playing and Still Learning

As Zoe and I launched into our talk about exactly what Minecraft is and why it’s a great tool for teachers, those teachers kept playing.

I found myself talking behind a wall of computer monitors while teachers continued to fly, build, break stuff and create. They weren’t looking at us or our slides, but from their great conversations and questions, I knew they were engaged.

When our talk ended, many teachers left wearing a expression on their face that I’ve seen many times on my students. It’s the look of a happy gamer after a great session. Their eyes were wide with excitement, they spoke quickly to their friends about some mishap or success they just had. And many left with the intention to dig a little deeper into Minecraft and inquiry-led, game-based-learning.

And for this gamer who happens to be a teacher, that’s just epic.