• @iLearningUk and @thecommonpeople on why  Minecraft is a good educational tool.
    So this is how it goes. I contacted Adam to see if he was interested in conducting a short interview via twitter to discuss how he has used Minecraft as an educational tool. I first came in to contact with Adam when I was looking for resources on YouTube to help me to go beyond the basics of Minecraft. I found his series called “Everyday Minecraft” which started out as a recording of how to survive your first night in a vanilla Minecraft survival game. His style of narrative and engagement with the game was instantly appealing. He creates funny moments and responds to his followers who are able to leave comments and suggestions that he then goes on to act upon in game.
    In later episodes, he is joined by his son, Django (very cool name) and we suddenly get the perspective of a (6?) year old on the game and see it through their eyes. It is absolutely captivating and I have watched nearly 40 episodes so far. His original plan was was to do 50 days, recording an episode every day to create this video diary of Minecraft from scratch. His journey ended up in a mission to Mars and I am looking forward to following that up when I reach episode 50.
    Adam has travelled the UK talking about Minecraft and how it has been used to teach. He has been involved in projects to bring Minecraft to Museums and is currently talking about recreating National Trust monuments as a project

    My post-interview thoughts
    Q1.  Thinking about Minecraft, what was the impetus and rationale behind using MC to teach with?
    Minecraft is a sandbox experience which makes it ideal for creativity, exploration, ideas and concepts. As it doesn’t restrict you from the normal ‘rules’ of a game people in Minecraft can build and do pretty much what they want. In an interesting episode of Minecraft Minechat (episode 25) Andre Chercka discusses how he has set up a server for working with autistic children and in it he shows us houses with roofs built of watermelons (8:34). The idea that you can build a roof on a house made of watermelons is just incredible. You couldn’t do that with Lego. There isn’t a watermelon brick in Lego. But in Minecraft, you could build that roof with any of the 153+ blocks available to you. You are only limited by your imagination. 
    So the sandbox approach that Minecraft allows is a creative, open-ended platform for learning that means crafters can experiment, explore, try things out in a safe, controlled way. It also allows them to cooperate, collaborate, communicate as well as teaching them secondary IT skills as they get more involved.
    At some point, all crafters want to record their world and their activity in that world. So very quickly, they find out about screen casting, publishing to and setting up a YouTube channel, streaming their videos via twitch. These are all skills that will be useful in many online, digital environments so are transferable skills. In 2011, 53% of persons employed in the EU used a computer at work. Panorama, E.U.S., (2012). With this level of computer use only increasing in the workplace, the ability to be comfortable finding digital solutions to problems becomes more important.
    Q2. What has teaching with MC achieved so far in terms of student learning?

    Minecraft has been used to teach everything from Maths to History to Quantum Physics and computer programming. Minecraft has a healthy modding community (modding is the process of developing extra programmes or ‘modules’ that change the original game). There are several mods that allow you to further engage learners with a specific topic and many different communities using them. The mods often encourage collaboration and exploration through their games. In this way, learners are actively encouraged to find common themes and solutions to solve problems (Problem Based Learning – PBL). This approach can also integrate well with flipped learning as the two different pedagogies compliment each other.
    The Minecraft community is largely self sufficient, providing updates to wikis, links to tutorials on youTube and walkthroughs on particular problems on Twitch. All of these resources allow the learner to progress their own learning in a self-structured way. Criticisms of this approach are that without the facilitators to guide the learning process, learners do not always lear what then need to. Without a facilitator in place, Minecraft sessions can quickly disrupt in to griefing sessions, or just personal build projects with little or no direction or apparent purpose.

    I usually show this video to explain how minecraft could be used in education http://youtu.be/RI0BN5AWOe8
    Read more at http://www.ilearninguk.com/archives/174#DPT6erxok3LU2BMc.99

    Q3. What impact have you seen on staff where you have delivered MC in schools?

    Adam talks about moving away from more traditional forms of teaching in to a more playful approach. I like the idea of this and support making learning enjoyable at any age. Getting engagement with the learning is all about making a connection with the learner. We do this with great presentations, with humour, with our personalities, but we can also use technology that they understand and enjoy to deliver our messages. The properties of gamification as defined by González, C., & Area, M. (2010)  fits with Minecraft as a learning tool and therefore we can consider it suitable for gamification of learning.
    The change in one’s own pedagogic practice can indeed be a daunting prospect as Adam noted, as there is scope for failure and issues with employing new technology that has yet to be proven in a classroom environment. However, once initial fears are overcome through the support and facilitation of a good TEL advisor and with the continuing support of other teachers using minecraft such as the Google group for teachers there is lots of opportunity and scope to try out new ideas and to get creative with the teaching.
    Minecraft use in Higher Education learning is largely unexplored at this point in time with few studies or research being conducted in this area. My own research is in the use and design of learning spaces in the virtual world and whether one can or indeed should look to replicate real world learning spaces in the virtual ones. I certainly will be looking to explore the use of Minecraft in Higher Education as a learning tool.
    Q4. How do you know it has had this impact? What evaluation strategies and methods have been used?

    Minecraft seems to have been a catalyst for many teachers who are finding new and exciting ways to use it in an educational way. Adam reports that he gets feedback from teachers who have initiated new projects based around Minecraft and the excitement that has generated.
    He also reports that the University of Lancaster are working on a Minecraft Democracy project and that this will be measured through questionnaires and post project interviews. It is hoped that this will demonstrate links between the skills and how Minecraft can be used to engage and develop new concepts in teaching.
    It is always hard to establish a cause and effect relationship between a learning intervention and a resulting positive, measurable impact. There is no doubt that utilising Minecraft can and does stimulate discussion, creativity and experimentation, but at present there is little science behind the results. We have studies of gamification of learning and measurable impacts against control groups, but perhaps the very sandbox nature of Minecraft makes it harder to control and therefore harder to measure? Does Minecraft need to be measured or is there a role for it to play in allowing students to be in control of their own learning? What ever the answer may be to this question, Minecraft surely has made an impact educationally.
    González, C., & Area, M. (2010). Breaking the Rules: Gamification of Learning and Educational Materials. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Interaction Design in Educational Environments (pp. 47–53). SciTePress – Science and and Technology Publications. doi:10.5220/0004600900470053
    Panorama, E. U. S. (2012). Digital Competence Analytical Highlight. Retrieved from http://euskillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/docs/AnalyticalHighlights/DigitalCompetence_en.pdf

  • @syrupskriss you might be interested in this Chris. My article for #ocTEL on the use of Minecraft in Education. http://t.co/3g0J5zStU3— Joel Mills (@iLearningUK) June 24, 2014

  • #ocTEL is there going to be a league table of Achievement points? My Total Points: 8,305— Joel Mills (@iLearningUK) June 24, 2014

  • Finally met the brains behind #ocTEL at #GEUG14. Good to meet you too @mhawksey :)— Joel Mills (@iLearningUK) June 23, 2014

  • @jojacob_uk I think so… I still have a few extras to post up yet! I am going to post more explorer thoughts where you can. #ocTEL— Joel Mills (@iLearningUK) June 23, 2014

  • tr {
    border: 1px solid #000;

    Twitter interview with Adam Clarke aka – Professor_Adam – aka @thecommonpeople

    Joel Mills
    @iLearningUK – Joel Mills

    Adam Clarke@thecommonpeople – Adam Clarke

    Joel Mills

    Hi Adam, Would you be up for a quick twitter interview with me? I am on an #ocTEL course looking at innovative Learning & I thought of you!

    Adam Clarke

    Yes :-)

    Joel Mills
    Brill! Ok. There are 4 Qs. Thinking about Minecraft, what was the impetus and rationale behind using MC to teach with?

    Adam Clarke
    MC is an easy to use multiplayer virtual space where the player can be creative and share ideas in 3D
    Adam Clarke
    And so much more…

    Joel Mills
    Ok, Q2. What has teaching with MC achieved so far in terms of student learning?

    Adam Clarke
    Student can learn everything from maths – physics – art – history – the difference is the process is game based and often collaborative
    Adam Clarke

    I usually show this video to explain how minecraft could be used in education http://youtu.be/RI0BN5AWOe8

    Joel Mills
    Thanks for that. I’ll take a look. I use MinecraftEDU to teach with but I know you have done lofts of work in a broader context. 1 of 2

    Adam Clarke
    Yes mapping – biology and story telling – minecraft is a great narrative container for engagement – taking the learner on a journey

    Joel Mills

    Q3. What impact have you seen on staff where you have delivered MC in schools? 2 of 2
    Joel Mills
    And your museum project?…

    Adam Clarke
    Its given opportunities for cross curricula projects that really are across the curiculam [sic]
    Adam Clarke

    so teachers start with traditional ideas but can move beyond into more playful and student led learning – project based
    Adam Clarke
    My museum work uses minecraft as a peer reviewed game where knowledge and learning is discussed between the students
    Adam Clarke
    The teachers become assistant and instigators to learning

    Joel Mills
    Going back to Q3 for a second, Did you see a direct impact on staff in schools after you had delivered MC sessions? More enthused/engaged?

    Adam Clarke
    A mix – change can be hard – some nervous – but yes lots of new ideas – lots of improved enthusiasm and agency to be creative

    Joel Mills
    Final #ocTEL question. Q4. How do you know it has had this impact? What evaluation strategies and methods have been used?

    Adam Clarke
    For me there has been initial feed back and I get reports from teachers letting me know about current projects –
    Adam Clarke
    We are currently working with Lancaster Uni on a minecraft democracy project and will be using academic strategies
    Adam Clarke
    Questionnaire interviews and post project interviews
    Adam Clarke
    This will show – we hope the transfer was of skills and ideas / concepts and engagement
    Adam Clarke
    So it’s about the why question – eg if you use mc for teaching and learning then it’s good to know why – then it’s easy to evaluate

    Joel Mills
    That sounds very interesting. I am particularly keen on using MC in an HE context. I am a TEL advisor at the University of Hull. 1 of 2
    Joel Mills
    I am looking at creating a 6 week MOOC in MC for Education and about to undertake my MSc in Learning Spaces looking at real and virtual.

    Adam Clarke
    Sound brilliant – would love to help on a Mooc

    Joel Mills
    Do I have your permission to include a transcript of this conversation on my blog? You can say no.

    Adam Clarke
    Sure take care

    Joel Mills
    Finally then. Just to say thank you very much Adam Clarke @thecommonpeople for your time and I look forward to seeing more of your work. :)

  • New post: #ocTEL week 6: Tel One Badge: How to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of particular TEL approaches http://t.co/AcwSsHq7sG— Joel Mills (@iLearningUK) June 20, 2014

  • Watch either:

    this 13 minute video about the Saylor Foundation and how they have developed 241 degree-level courses, available free of cost, free of accreditation and largely free of professors,
    or this9 minute video about one MOOC model (this is usually referred to as thexMOOC model, in contrast to the cMOOC model, which ocTEL is closer to).

    Write down in short bullet point form a list of

    elements of the Saylor or xMOOC approach that you think could be applicable to your context (what you’re involved in teaching, to whom, with what goals and constraints)
    problems you might anticipate with the approach

    Considerations for delivery of an online course in Minecraft for Educators
    The Saylor approach to delivery of content does rely heavily on text based information in its modules with little interaction. The programmes are designed to be stand alone with little interaction with other learners and tested via MCQs at the end of the module. This is largely a didactic, behaviourist approach to learning suggesting that all the learner has to do is to be exposed to the knowledge to absorb it and then regurgitate it at the end of the module. Students tend to perform better when there is interaction with other learners. Picciano (2002) has shown that low levels of interaction on an online programmes of study produces poorer results in written assignments compared to students with high levels of interaction on a module. DeTure (2004) suggested that is isn’t the levels of interaction that determine the individual’s success but their self-efficacy that will determine their completion and ultimately their success. However her findings were inconclusive and she states,

    “Cognitive style scores and online technologies self-efficacy scores were poor predictors of student success in online distance education courses.” DeTure (2004)

    I think that the Saylor approach is not really suitable for my course for the above reasons. I did reflect on the MOOC approach as well and felt that there were much more similarities in the way in which I want to deliver my programme.
    So do students perform better when enrolled on to a fully immersive course like a MOOC? Not according to Hawksey (2014). The ocTEL 2104 course is a MOOC that started with a large number of participants n=333 but had reduced to n=58 participants by the end week of the course in week 6. The graph in the article shows the typical spike of early adopters which quickly tails off to a lower, but constant level, of participants. Hawksey goes on to discuss what makes a student wish to engage with a MOOC citing Digital Badges and the ability to be self-directed learners as being the key drivers for participation.
    The subject matter in my own course allows me to create screencasts of my Minecraft tasks and worlds. I can then set assignments in MineCraft that the students can log in to the world and to begin to build and create. Using this model, I can have students create buildings and projects and post the coordinates in a forum to set up peer review opportunities.. I would then want to award badges based on peer review and reflection that could be transferred to the Mozilla Backpack to increase engagement and continue participation to the end of the course. I am thinking of several platforms that would allow me to do this.

    Canvas Instructure

    Participation drop off is always an issue. There is real potential for the number of students participating in the course to drop to such a low level that there is little or no interaction opportunities for the learner. Of course there is also the risk that the number of initial participants might not be high enough to generate the same interaction. Therefore the elements of the Saylor Foundation project that I will use and build on are the ability for the student to work without interactions should the need arise. They need to be able to complete the course if the course number should reach n=1. I will have to bear this in mind when setting tasks and establish how the assessment of the course and the awarding of the badges would be managed if this was the point.
    Of course, the lower the numbers, the easier it is for the lecturer to get involved as there are less students and therefore less marking, awarding of badges and comments. But what is the tipping point? 10? 20? 50? 100?  I don’t have enough experience to be able to predict what this point is and I suspect that each course would be different as some learners are more demanding/active than others.
    Oh… I didn’t do a bullet list.

    Create learning opportunities that do not require other participants
    Mix up assessment to include some MCQs
    Develop interactive and immersive experiences that engage the learner
    Produce reward system to motivate and encourage participation
    Develop communities of learning based on common themes.

    DeTure, M (2004) Cognitive Style and Self-Efficacy: Predicting Student Success in Online Distance Education, American Journal of Distance Education, 18:1, 21-38, DOI: 10.1207/s15389286ajde1801_3 Last accessed 20/6/2014.
    Hawskey, M. (2014). Evaluating ocTEL 2013 with this year: What do the numbers tell us?. Available: http://octel.alt.ac.uk/2014/evaluating-octel-2013-with-this-year-what-do-the-numbers-tell-us/. Last accessed 20/6/2014.
    Hawskey, M. (2014). What influenced participants level of engagement in ocTEL?. Available: http://octel.alt.ac.uk/2014/what-influenced-participants-level-of-engagement-in-octel/. Last accessed 20/6/2014.
    Picciano, A.G. (2002). BEYOND STUDENT PERCEPTIONS: ISSUES OF INTERACTION, PRESENCE, AND PERFORMANCE IN AN ONLINE COURSE. Available: http://faculty.weber.edu/eamsel/research%20groups/on-line%20learning/picciano%20(2002).pdf. Last accessed 20/6/2014.

  • #lGmlearning is this the future of our educators? Not a single tweet using the # at a mobile learning conference full of educators? #ocTEL— Joel Mills (@iLearningUK) June 18, 2014

  • #lGmlearning why is no one tweeting at this conference on Mobile learning? Might have to reflect on this in #ocTel— Joel Mills (@iLearningUK) June 18, 2014

  • week-0-tel-explorerThere are three activities outlined in the Week 0 TEL Explorer section and this badge can be earned up to three times. Click on the badge to make your each of your submissions for Week 0’s TEL Explorer badges.

  • Watch one or both of the following videos relating to TEL projects at an institutional and course level. Reflect upon the successes/failures highlighted by the presentations.

    Institutional project – VLE Review project at Imperial College London, Julie Voce, E-learning Services Manager. (Length: 11:26)

    Reflection on successes and failures on above video:
    This project highlighted 3 key successes:

    Delivering decision within 1 month of original timescales
    Thorough evaluation of VLE’s
    Set up and migration to new VLE of over 500 courses within 4 months

    The value of undertaking a thorough evaluation of a VLE should not be under estimated.  It is crucial for the success of a new service that all of it’s features are tested against the criteria identified in the specification documentation. You need to be able to ensure that the chosen product is fit for purpose and will meet the needs of the institution on many different levels. It is key to get input from all stakeholders, in particular, the students to the specification document. WIthout understanding the expectation from the users at all levels, how will you know when you have met those expectations? Gathering lots of feedback via polls and surveys are good, but face to face works best as you can really begin to unpick statements and expectations from the stakeholders. 
    Bringing the project in on time and completing the migration smoothly are key to the uptake of the new system. Removing barriers to the uptake of the new system is key to its success. Obvious barriers that those resistant to change come up with is that there is a danger that change process takes too long and you quickly lose the attention of staff.
    Key failures of this project

    Communication – Even now some people seem unaware the review took place
    Timescales – The review took longer due to starting when students were not around

    Utilising automation workflows, it usually is quite easy to get systems to migrate courses over to new systems. What is harder is getting the staff to transfer their learning materials over to the new system. In previous roles, I have achieved this with good, clear communications about the change process. A good strategy is as follows:

    Tell people what you are going to do and when you are going to do it (set up the expectation)
    Give them plenty of notice of step 1
    Repeat notifications 1 month before, 2 weeks before 1 week before and 1 day before.
    Do exactly what you said you would do on the day you said you would do it.
    Tell people via announcements that you have completed step 1
    Invite feedback.

    PART 2
    Thinking about a project you have been involved with, consider the following:

    Who were your stakeholders?
    What resources were used?
    How clear/achievable was the project plan?
    What fallback position, if any, did you build into your plan in the event of full or partial project failure?
    What methods did you use to evaluate your project?
    How did you measure project success?
    Did you celebrate your success and did this encourage further developments?

    I am discussing the implementation of a new VLE in a previous role as the Learning Resources Manager in an FE College.

    Our stakeholders were anyone who might need to use the VLE:
    Tier 1: Students; lecturers; administrators; managers;
    Tier 2 external examiners; parents;
    Tier 3: governors; prospective students
    Web surveys, face to face groups, student focus groups, email, working groups, staff council, academic team meeting feedback
    The project plan set out clear deliverable in a Project Initiation Document and the mapping of the outcomes was done in a mapping tool to measure the levels of achievement against each goal. Milestones were set and the project was put in to a GANTT chart to identify pinch points and possible project slippage.
    The old VLE was kept on board for a full year whils the new VLE was set up, account migrated and content structure developed. A full back up of the old VLE was alos kept in the advent of any dataloss. IN the event of a total project failure, I.E. the new VLE simply failed on every level, the old VLE was kept alive and would have been used until a suitable replacement could have been found. Only when the criteria were met and the project team and senior management team were satisfied that the migration was successful was the old VLE taken down.
    We used the same information gathering channels as number 2 to get our data. The evaluation of success was measured against the KPIs set out in the PID as well as qualitative, localised data.
    See 5 above.
    Success were celebrated through awarding digital badges for the most active users of the VLE. This was a new scheme that incentivised the VLE recognising those staff who embraced it and engaged with it the most. This way, each department’s top users of the VLE got a personal mention and a league table was set up to quickly add a competitive element to the VLE usage.

  • ilearninguk replied to the topic in the forum 10 years, 1 month ago

    I think for me that ocTEL course has been very interesting and engaging so far. (Yes, another ‘like’ button would be good)

    I freely admit I have been ‘badge hunting’ as that appeals to my inner gamer (It’s not that ‘inner’… it is very much ‘everyday gamer’ in reality). Th badges have kept me coming back for more and I want to gain the full set…[Read more]

  • ilearninguk replied to the topic in the forum 10 years, 1 month ago

    Hi Peter,

    We had two groups set up, those who had never used mineCraft or knew very little about it and those who had lots of experience. There were no students who had ‘some’ knowledge. It seems like you either play it or you don’t.

    In the first sessions, we had orienteering games using the tutorial world where by the ‘noobs’ were in control of…[Read more]

  • ilearninguk started the topic in the forum 10 years, 1 month ago

    Woo hoo.. First to check in! And made it to week 6. Good luck with the final week everyone!

  • In-house vs off the shelf solutions
    When considering a new TEL initiative, relevant resources including expertise and technological solutions may already exist outside your organisation. What are the advantages and disadvantages of ‘in-house’ vs externally-sourced solutions?
    This is an age old problem that TEL advisors face when time comes to replace a particular tool such as a VLE. Below is our google document notes on SWOT analysis for this very question.
    Self-Hosted  Vs Vendor-Cloud solution
    Self-Hosted SWOT
    Self hosted meaning we have ‘it’ on our servers, (Paid for or Opensource) ‘it’ is ‘developed’ by our developers and ‘it’ is serviced by our help desk

    Can develop/make it your own
    May be cheaper
    You are ‘in control’
    Run your own help desk
    Add extra disk space easily
    Influence roadmap
    Integration options much deeper and broader e.g. timetabling, analytics, site creation, autocompletion of course specification data
    can support single point of authority more easily through integrations
    Needs developers
    You can be out on your own
    Lots of cost hidden
    But lots of people aren’t that keen
    You need to purchase sufficient server space and power to meet heaviest demands (question: what is this cost? If cloud providers throw it around so easily can it be that expensive, or are we not doing it right?)
    Needs people on site 24/7 or at least on call – Model of provision
    help desk needs staffing
    Can’t blame the ‘evil vendor’, have to accept problem as ours.
    Seen as the ‘cheap option’ by staff (but how much will they know? (this may be about staying with Sakai rather than where it sits)

    to gain institution focused developers
    to contribute to community
    to develop ‘what we want’
    Competitive advantage through distinction
    Distributed support
    To help design the VLE for 2020
    We may not get institution focused developers (our region may not attract right applicants)
    You run out of processor power and space
    System goes down during the evening takes time to fix
    Seen as the ‘cheap option’ by staff – who may therefore be much less engaged (but see caveat above on whether this is a Sakai issue)
    ICT buy-in as a core system needing as much attention as other systems

    Same again but for Vendor Hosted (cloud) (and therefore procurement and possibly greater change – )
    Vendor/Cloud SWOT

    Responsibility lies with vendor
    Contracted to SLA and TAT
    Server backup and security guaranteed?
    more change…
    Change requests can take a long time or may never even happen
    Cloud goes down?
    Lack of control of backend system

    To gain UoH focused developers
    We may not get institution focused developers
    Price rises of server space

    Opensource vs Paid for solutions
    Opensource solutions

    Part of a community
    Benefits of belonging to an opensource community. T&L, development, support …
    Community sourced development
    Collaboration equation: 2+2+2=4 all parties still get twice what they put in
    Cheaper (free?)
    Quick to address issues in the community
    Bug fixes sorted
    New features can be developed quickly
    Lack of roadmap (always?)
    Free as in puppy
    No one to blame

    Can get bespoke VLE tools to meet our needs
    Stability of community?
    Lack of investment in in-house development team
    No community voice
    Development goes off on a tangent moved from weakness)
    Add-ins deviate from core (branch) creating upgrade issues
    Prone to bugs?
    Building an expectation of local development

    Paid for solutions

    Clear development roadmap (always?)
    Good look and feel?
    Robust bug testing programme
    Blame the vendor
    No expectation of local development
    Lack of customisation
    Customisation may cause problems for late upgrades

    Development team investment and stability in vendor company
    Continual investment in upgrades required
    Control of upgrade timetable
    Vendor stability

    The Change programme
    Opportunity to use the change as part of a managed change programme to engage staff

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