Saturday , December 9 2023

Pedagogical Insights into the Use of Minecraft within Educational Settings


1 University of Iceland,
v/Stakkahlid, 101, Reykjavik, Iceland
2 Spiru Haret University,
13 Ion Ghica Street,
Bucharest 3, Romania

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.

>>Full text PDF
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.


  1. ABDAL-HAQQ, I. Infusing technology into preservice teacher education. ERIC Digest 389699, 1995, pp. 1-6 (available at accessed on 25.03.2016).
  2. AINGE, D. Upper primary students constructing and exploring three dimensional shapes: A comparison of virtual reality with card nets. Journal of Educational Computing Research, vol. 14(4), 1996, pp. 345-369.
  3. BEBBINGTON, S., VELLINO, A. Can playing Minecraft improve teenagers’ information literacy? Journal of Information Literacy, 9(2), 2015, pp. 6-26.
  4. BAEK, Y. K. What hinders teachers in using computer and video games in the classroom? Exploring factors inhibiting the uptake of computer and video games. Cyber psychology, Behaviour and Social Networking, vol. 6(1), 2008, pp. 665-71.
  5. BLOM, J. O., MONK, A. F. A theory of personalisation of appearance: why users personalise their PCs and mobile phones. Human-Computer Interaction, vol. 18(3), 2003, 193-228.
  6. Bonk, C. J. and Cunningham, D. J. Chapter 2: Searching for learner-centred, constructivist, and socio-cultural components of collaborative educational learning tools. In Bonk, C.J. and King, K.S. (Eds.). Electronic collaborators: Learner-centred technologies for literacy, apprenticeship, and discourse, 1998, pp. 25-50. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  7. BREY, P. Ethical Aspects of Information Security and Privacy, in: Security, Privacy, and Trust in Modern Data Management. In M. Petković and W. Jonker (Eds.). Heidelberg: Springer, 2007, pp. 21-36.
  8. BRICKEN, M., BYRNE, C. Summer students in virtual reality: A pilot study on educational applications of virtual reality technology. In A. Wexelblat (Ed.), Virtual reality applications and explorations. Cambridge, MA: Academic Press Professional, 1993.
  9. BURKE, B. Gamify: How Gamification Motivates People to Do Extraordinary Things. Brookline: Bibliomotion, Inc., 2014.
  10. CRESWELL, J. W. Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1998.
  11. CRESWELL, J. W. Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among !ve approaches (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks. CA: Sage, 2007.
  12. DENZIN, N. K. The research act. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1984.
  13. EGBERT, J., PAULUS, T., NAKAMICHI, Y. The impact of CALL instruction on language classroom technology use: A foundation for rethinking CALL teacher education? Language Learning & Technology, 6(3), 2002, pp. 108-126.
  14. ERTMER, P. A. Addressing first- and second-order barriers to change: strategies for technology integration. Educational Technology Research and Development, 47(4), 1999, pp. 47-61.
  15. FABRY, D., HIGGS, J. Barriers to the effective use of technology in education. Journal of Educational Computing, vol. 17(4), 1997, 385-395.
  16. GEE, J. P. What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. Palgrave Macmillan,
  17. GLASER, B. G., STRAUSS, A. L. The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research. New York: Aldine Publishing Company, 1967.
  18. GRAU, I. Teacher development in technology instruction: Does computer coursework transfer into actual teaching practice? Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southwest Educational Research Association, Dallas, TX, 1996. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED394949.
  19. HALL, B. (2001) New Technology Definitions, (available at accessed on 26.07.2016).
  20. HARE, P. Roles, relationships, and groups in organizations: some conclusions and recommendations. Small group research, vol. 34 (2), 2003.
  21. Heinze, A. Blended learning: an interpretive action research study. PhD thesis, Salford: University of Salford, 2008.
  22. HENNESSEY, S. DEANEY, R. (2004). Sustainability and evolution of ICT supported classroom practice, (available at accessed on 26.07.2016).
  23. HUOTARI, K., HAMARI, J. Defining Gamification – A Service Marketing Perspective”.Proceedings of the 16th International Academic MindTrek Conference 2012, Tampere, Finland, October, 2012, 3–5.
  1. JOHANNSDOTTIR, TH. (2008). Áhrif Netsins á menntakerfið. Retrieved (available at accessed on 26.07.2016).
  2. JOHNSON, A., MOHER, T., CHOO, Y., LIN, Y.J., KIM, J. Augmenting elementary school education with VR. IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, March/April, 2002, 6-9.
  3. KAPP, K. The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education. San Francisco: Pfeiffer, 2012.
  4. LAM, Y. Technophilia v. technophobia: A preliminary look at why second language teachers do or do not use technology in their classrooms. Canadian Modern Language Review, vol. 56(1), 2000, pp. 389-420.
  5. LANGONE, C., WISSICK, C., LANGONE, J., ROSS, G. A study of graduates of a technology teacher preparation program. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, vol. 6(4), 1998, pp. 283-302.
  6. LEVY, M. Computer assisted language learning: Context and conceptualization. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1997.
  7. LIVINGSTONE, S., BULGER, M. A Global Agenda for Children’s Rights in the Digital Age: Recommendations for Developing UNICEF’s Research Strategy. Florence: UNICEF Office of Research,
  8. LOEHR, M. Top ten media competency recommendations by teachers for teacher training. Technology and Teacher Education Annual, 1996, pp. 474-476.
  9. MANTERNACH-WIGANS, L. Technology integration in Iowa high schools: perceptions of teachers and students. Iowa State University, 1999.
  10. MATTHIASDOTTIR, A. (2001). Kennslurými. UT fyrir framhaldsskóla, (available at 07.2016).
  11. Gaming Can Make a Better World. TEd.
  12. NET. Minecraft. (available at 25.071.2016).
  13. MUMTAZ, S. Factors Affecting Teachers’ Use of Information and Communications Technology: a review of the literature. Journal of Information Technology for Teacher Education, vol. 9(3), 2000, 319-342.
  14. NEUMAN, W. L. Social research methods: qualitative and quantitative approaches. 3rd edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1997.
  15. Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection, PISA. OECD Publishing, (available at, accessed on 25.07.2016).
  16. OXFORD DICTIONARIES. (available at accessed on 25.07.2016).
  17. PAGLIA-BOAK, A. E. (The mental health and well-being on Ontario students, 1991-2012. Toronto: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 2012.
  18. PASSEY, D., ROGERS, C., MACHELL, J., MCHUGH, G. The Motivational Effect of ICT on Pupils. Lancaster: Department of Educational Research Lancaster University, 2004.
  19. PATTON, M. Q. Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1990.
  20. PAULSEN, M. F. Online Education and Learning Management Systems. Oslo: NKI Forlaget, 2003.
  21. PRESTON, C., COX, M., COX, K. Teachers as Innovators: an evaluation of teachers’ motivation in the use of ICT. London: MirandaNet, 2000.
  22. REED, W., ANDERSON, D., ERVIN, J., OUGHTON, J. Computers and teacher education students: A ten year analysis. Journal of Computing in Childhood Education, 6(1), 1995, pp. 5­-24.
  23. RUSSELL, M., BEBELL, D., O’DWYER, L. AND O’CONNOR, K. (2003). Examining teacher technology use: Implications for pre-service and in-service teacher preparation. Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 54 (4), 2003, 297-310.
  24. SHATZ, I. Using Gamification and Gaming in Order to Promote Risk Taking in the Language Learning Process. Proceedings of the 13th Annual MEITAL National Conference, Haifa, Israel, 2015, 227–232.
  25. SHORT, D. (2012). Teaching Scientific Concepts Using a Virtual World Minecraft. Teaching Science, vol. 58(3), 2012, pp. 55-58.
  26. SMERDON, B., CRONEN, S., LANAHAN, L., ANDERSON, J., IANNOTTI, N., ANGELES, J. Teachers’ tools for the 21st century: A report on teachers’ use of technology. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, 2000.
  27. SQUIRE, K. Video Games and Learning: Teaching Participatory Culture in the Digital Age (Technology, Education – Connections. Teachers’ College Press, 2011.
  28. STRUDLER, N, MCKINNEY, M., JONES, W. (1999). First-year teachers’ use of technology: Preparation, expectations and realities. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, vol. 7(2), 1999, 115-129.
  29. STRUDLER, N., QUINN, L., MCKINNEY, M., JONES, W. From coursework to the real world: First-year teachers and technology. In D. A. Willis, B. Robin, & J. Willis (Eds.), Technology and teacher education annual, pp. 774-777. Charlottesville, VA: AACE, 1995.
  30. TAYLOR, R. The Computer in the school: tutor, tool, tutee. New York: Teachers College Press, 1980.
  31. TEED, R. (2016). How to Teach Using Game-Based Learning. InGame-Based Learning, (available at accessed on 25.06.2015).
  32. THORSTEINSSON, G., NICULESCU, A. Using Mobile Technology for Problem Need Identification in School-aged Children Environment. Studies in Informatics and Control, vol. 21(4), 2012, pp. 431-438.
  33. THORSTEINSSON, G., NICULESCU, A. Examining Teachers’ Mindset and Responsibilities in Using ICT, Studies in Informatics and Control, vol. 22(3), 2013, pp.315-322. ISSN 1220-1766.
  34. THORSTEINSSON, G., GUNNARSDOTTIR, G., NICULESCU, A.,Assessing the Value of a Mobile Application in Fostering Ideation within a School Context, Studies in Informatics and Control, ISSN 1220-1766, vol. 24(1), 2015, pp. 119-126.
  35. GARCIA-MARTINEZ, S. Using Commercial Games to Support Teaching in Higher Education. Unpublished thesis. Montreal: University of Montreal, 2012.
  36. WALKER, (2012). Exploring the Ancient, Virtual World: Engagement and Enrichment Within a Virtual Historical Learning Environment (available at 2016 from accessed on 25.06.2016)
  37. WERBACH, K., HUNTER, D. For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business. Philadelphia, PA: Wharton Digital Press,
  38. WITFELT, C. Educational multimedia and teachers’ needs for new competencies to use educational multimedia. Education Media International, vol. 37, No. 4, 2000, 235-241.
  39. WORTHINGTON, T. Blended Learning: Using a Learning Management System Live in the Classroom. The Australian National University, 2008.
  40. ZICHERMANN G. Fun is the Future: Mastering Gamification, Google Tech Talk October 26, 2010, (available at 6O1gNVeaE4g&feature=player_embedded accessed on 25.01.2016).