Tuesday , August 14 2018

Pedagogical Insights into the Use of Minecraft within Educational Settings

Gisli THORSTEINSSON1, Andrei NICULESCU2,3

1 University of Iceland,
v/Stakkahlid, 101, Reykjavik, Iceland
cdt@khi.is
2 Spiru Haret University,
13 Ion Ghica Street,
Bucharest 3, Romania
andreiniculescu@hotmail.com

3 I C I Bucharest
(National Institute for R & D in Informatics)

8-10 Averescu Blvd.
011455 Bucharest 1, Romania

Abstract: This article highlights a research study that examined teachers’ and students’ work utilising the popular PC game Minecraft within an educational setting. The main purpose of the study was to give insights into the pedagogy of using Minecraft within such a context. Interviews were undertaken with practicing teachers, observations were carried out and related documents were analysed. The data produced was qualitative, while the analysis was based on grounded theory principles and an interpretive paradigm. The key issues under consideration in the research were the following: a) the role of teachers in this game-driven educational context, b) the extent to which the Minecraft software affects students’ learning practices and c) how the teachers’ pedagogy could be enhanced. The study revealed both pedagogical benefits and drawbacks. The findings from this study suggest that students were mostly motivated to use Minecraft in its creative mode that enhanced learners’ problem solving skills and helped them to reach a compromise. The high creative potential of Minecraft also offered teachers a broad range of possibilities to assign interdisciplinary project-based collaborative tasks.

Keywords: Minecraft, gamification learning, education, pedagogy, research, teachers and students.

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CITE THIS PAPER AS:
Gisli THORSTEINSSON, Andrei NICULESCU,
Pedagogical Insights into the Use of Minecraft within Educational Settings, Studies in Informatics and Control, ISSN 1220-1766, vol. 25(4), pp. 507-516, 2016.

  1. Introduction

Using desktop-based virtual reality technologies (DVRT) is an integral part of young people’s daily lives and such games can be both entertaining and educational. The use of computer games in the field of education is often referred to as gamification of learning. Gamification of learning (GL) is an educational approach that motivates students by using game-based elements within educational settings (Kapp, 2012; Shatz, 2015). The aim is to capture students’ interest and motivate them to learn (Burke, 2014). Using DVRT for Game Based Virtual Learning (GBVL) is an ideal mode of supporting students’ learning, as it enables communication and the collation of information in an enjoyable manner (Hennessey & Deaney, 2004; Passey et al., 2004).

Research findings from the OECD (OECD, 2015) indicate that, although most students have access to computers and the Internet, they do not necessarily know how to utilise them in the learning process. It was also shown that there has been no considerable progress in student knowledge and skills in reading, mathematics or science in countries that have largely invested in traditional ICT opportunities for education. Thus, schools must find new ways to educate young students using ICT opportunities, in order to prepare them for an interconnected existence where they will have to live and work with individuals from different nations and dissimilar cultural backgrounds (Thorsteinsson, Page and Niculescu, 2012).

Decades of research within the field of ICT-use within education indicate that educators are at a very early stage of such usage. The OECD (OECD, 2015) asserted that the use of ICT to enhance learning requires a broader strategy in terms of skills and fresh opportunities, such as the use of Game Based Virtual Learning Environments (GBVLE). It is therefore important to look in more depth at the complex and diverse reality of young students’ digital literacy practices, in order to be able to better evaluate the skills, knowledge and general understanding that students require in order to benefit from the use of ICT within educational settings. Schools must cultivate broader ICT skills among students in order to support conventional education and to allow for the opportunity of increased creativity within schools. Gamification learning could be utilised across all lessons (Zickermann, 2010).

Gamification literature has been growing and commercial enterprises dave been developing the actual elements of gamification in order to increase consumer involvement, inspiration and productivity. However, educators have been slow to recognise the benefits of gamification through the use of GBVLEs (McGonigal, 2010; Tdorsteinsson and Niculescu, 2013).

The paper is organized as follows: An overview of relevant literature pertaining to the use of ICT in education and gamification learning in
GBVLEs is given at the beginning of the paper. The authors then outline the research methodology before discussing the findings and drawing conclusions.

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https://doi.org/10.24846/v25i4y201612