Interschool Minecraft League: A Collaboration

First Planning Meeting, 22/6/2012

What: Several schools engaging in challenges of collaboration and competition in the virtual world of Minecraft.

Who was Present:

  • by phone: Nicole Assisi, teacher from the Da Vinci Schools in California
  • Bob Kahn, science teacher at Brentwood School in California
  • by phone: Angela Larsen, Pepperdine doctoral student and teacher at Bernard C. Campbell Middle School in Missouri
  • Scott Perloff, Director of Educational Technology at Brentwood School
  • Lead: Linda Polin, Professor of Education and Technology at Pepperdine University
  • James Rhoads, doctoral student at Pepperdine
  • by phone: Andrea Shea, doctoral student at Pepperdine

Why: To inspire students to create and collaborate with students in their own school and other schools from around the country using Minecraft. The ultimate goal is for students to further develop their technological potential and interests.

Topics Discussed and Issues to Address:

Teams                                                                                                                    Students would work in teams of 3 or 4, initial from the same school, but eventually some challenges will be with team members from different schools. We discussed the idea of have single gender teams or mixed gender teams.

Encouraging Cross School Engagement
We are all eager to support cross school engagement, not just in competitions. To that end we agree all that students and teachers should be able to meet, hang out, build and play in a common area on the Pepperdine server. In order for students and teachers to access the Pepperdine server, they would need to be whitelisted. This would be done by the Pepperdine team.

Crafters Council                                                                                                                 We discussed the idea of having the more advanced students earn the right to be on a “Crafters Council” to help create and run challenges. This would be modeled after Bron Stuckey’s and Jokaydia’s Massively Minecraft. This basically involves tasks for the students to complete in order to gain more responsibility on the server. What could be a better motivator then more responsibility?

Servers/Client Versions                                                                                       Brentwood School has it’s own hosted server, while Da Vinci and Campbell will use the Pepperdine server. We need to be running the same version of the Minecraft client. Da Vinci and Campbell will access the Pepperdine server using Minecraft client packages purchased from MinecraftEdu. We will not be using the virtual server that comes with Edu. We will have to be attentive to Minecraft updates to make sure everyone is using the same version.

Curricular contexts                                                                                                            Da Vinci is embedding Minecraft within a course that also focuses on robotics. Brentwood has a weekly Minecraft Exploratory for only 30 minutes, and Campbell is thinking about time both in class and after school. It appears as though the three schools will have different amounts of “in school” time devoted to Minecraft. Hmm, this may present some problems, but assuming that the challenges are engaging, it is likely that students will pursue them on their own time, hopefully, not to the detriment of other subject areas and responsibilities.

Parent Education                                                                                                              The Pepperdine doctoral students will be gathering data on how the kids create, compete and collaborate during various challenges. It was discussed if Linda needed to come to the schools to help parents understand what kind of data is going to be collected and assure the parents that collecting personal data about their children is NOT the goal of this project. We all decided that this was unnecessary and that we could handle presenting the goal of the project and alleviating any concerns. A legal document, without scary language, would need to be created for all students interested in participating.

Challenges and Competitions                                                                                         We discussed several ways to organize challenges. 1. All student teams could have their own partitioned area on the Pepperdine server, surrounding by a common area. 2. Teams could complete the challenges on their own respective servers and screenshots or screencasts taken. 3. Maps of challenges could be copied and installed on the respective servers for a competing school to complete. Of course, it would be easier if all schools used the same server. We thought about how to organize activities to support the variation in kids’ and teachers’ expertise within the virtual world. Monsters will be turned off, initially, and so will PVP.

Starting Up                                                                                                                     Da Vinci and Campbell start school in August, while Brentwood starts in September. Being that it takes some time to ramp up at the beginning of school, we thought the first challenge might take place in October and would be a school vs. school challenge. Clients will need to be installed, and teachers, parents and kids will need to be informed. To accommodate different levels of players, we discussed a starter task such as a scavenger hunt or an obstacle course built by school teams. (Or maybe we just throw them into the world and let them play and see what happens. Hmm.)

Linda created a folder in Google labeled MC League that includes a document for us to brainstorm about this startup task.  At some point, down the road, students would have access to this document as well. Maybe access to this folder could be a reward or responsibility gained after completing some tasks. To this end, two of us are going to build a Ning networking site for the students to utilize.

Ideas/Questions for Down the Road                                                                    Challenge league configuration. How often? Do we want winners and losers? Real time head to head or beat the problem. Progressively harder or just different. Problem challenges. Adventure maps (design and logic). Logic gates and machines using redstone. Java programming making mods.) etc….

Imagine the possibilities…

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One thought on “Interschool Minecraft League: A Collaboration

  1. This is exactly what I was looking for and I would love to be able to participate with my students if possible. I will be teaching an elective course in Minecraft this coming year and it would be great if the students could work towards a competition like this. If there is any way I can help or participate, please let me know. I am at an all-boys private school and my elective class is comprised of eight 8th graders who having varying degrees of skills in Minecraft.

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