Minecraft, a video game, to the huge educational potential

  • Photo courtesy
    Two students of the elementary school Paul-Jarry, of Montreal, have made a replica of the Titanic using the video game Minecraft.

    Catherine Montambeault

    Saturday, July 1, 2017 08:00

    UPDATE
    Saturday, July 1, 2017 08:00

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    The video game Minecraft is “a tool with educational potential “exceptional” which could altogether transform the small school, according to a new study.

    “It was discovered almost 25 educational benefits to Minecraft. We are quite impressed,” says Thierry Karsenti, professor at the Faculty of educational sciences of the University of Montreal and holder of the Canada research Chair on information technologies and communication in education.

    Motivation

    Second most popular game of all time after Tetris, Minecraft allows its users to build anything they wish from cubes pixelated, the same way they do with Lego.

    Having seen the light of day at the end of the year 2016, a version adapted to the school, Minecraft Education, is used in particular in the United States and Sweden to teach science, urban planning or a new language.

    Throughout the last school year, 118 students from the 3rd to the 6th year of primary school, from two schools in disadvantaged Montreal, have used Minecraft in the classroom in the context of an exploratory study conducted by professor Karsenti and the researcher postdoc Julien Bugmann.

    The children were on a school program that consists of 30 tasks to perform, grouped into 10 levels of difficulty. They were to for example build a house, tame a pet and re-create an existing sculpture.

    “In addition to generating a lot of enthusiasm from the students, the game has allowed them to develop all kinds of skills, applicable in all academic subjects,” said Mr. Karsenti.

    These skills include greater creativity, a better ability in solving problems and skills increased in math, history and English.

    Photo courtesy

    Thierry Karsenti, a researcher

    “We also realized that playing Minecraft made young people more interested in school overall, noted Thierry Karsenti. When we look at the dropout rate in Quebec, one might think that a game like this could perhaps help young people to stay longer on the school bench.”

    Before that Thierry Karsenti is in contact with the director of the elementary school Paul-Jarry, Christine Jost, the latter knew nothing of the video game. It has all the same agreed to launch an extra-curricular activity for students of his school to take part in the study of the professor of the University of Montreal.

    Success

    “Mr. Karsenti had told us that it would be very seller with students and he was right! says Ms. Jost. We started a first group extracurricular activity at the end of the fall, and the entries were very numerous. The children flocked to this activity ! Almost immediately, we opened a second group, and then a third, for a total of sixty students.”

    The project has been a success on the whole line, so that, the next year, licenses Minecraft for 320 primary school pupils will be put at the disposal of teachers.

    “The students have realized that by working together, they were able to build more things, argues Christine Jost. I see there an impact on the work of the community, an important skill in the 21st century.”

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