Video games in the classroom are usually a surefire way to incur the wrath of the teacher, but Minecraft has been welcomed into British classrooms and could spark a gamification revolution in schools.
MinecraftEdu, a version of the game targeted at subjects as diverse as city planning and even physics, is now available to a host of institutions in Northern Ireland after a deal was struck to secure £100,000 of funding from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure. The deal will provide licences to 200 schools and 30 libraries. Many other schools in the UK have followed suit, purchasing a licence to use the game in their classrooms.
This forward-thinking approach proves that gamification – the buzzword of the marketing world in 2014 – has found its way into schools at last. MinecraftEdu has been available since 2011, but is only making rapid headway following this widespread adoption.
The logic is satisfyingly simple: kids love games, and by approaching education with that same clearly defined quest and reward then they will engage with subjects that they may have considered dry and uninteresting before.
MinecraftEdu is flexible enough to adapt to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and one school even found a way to use the game to bring history and IT together. Using 21st century technology, the students were able to recreate a 19th century plantation and bring history to life in a way that simply isn’t possible with the textbook approach.
Vast numbers of historical buildings have been modelled in Minecraft, and kids are more likely to explore them on the computer than they are to appreciate a slide show; it’s just a fact of life. With teachers all round the world sharing their experiences of teaching with the game, too, unofficial teaching techniques are springing up all the time to make the most of the game’s unique appeal.
Lesson plans are being published online all the time, which along with great ratings, additional tools and a vast library of maps drive MinecraftEdu forward. More than 1500 teachers and kids alike are joining forces on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ pages, which engage the children automatically thanks to the modern-day approach and help the teachers find new ways to express age-old ideas. Even the classroom is going social!
Of course this is smart business for the game company too. If there was a single child in this world that was not exposed to the Minecraft phenomenon, they will be now and it will happen at school with the full blessing of the teachers. Children are notoriously fickle and there was every chance the Minecraft gravy train would, one day, come to an end. By bringing the game into the school system it gives Minecraft a new lease of life before the old one has come to an end, and brings it to an even wider audience right now.
By leading the charge to bring gamification into schools, Minecraft has also taken on a social responsibility to improve education and bring modern-day tools to the teachers’ arsenal of tricks. If other games companies follow suit then the classrooms of tomorrow could be a far more entertaining place, and a new generation of more engaged, more interested and more enthusiastic children could go on to show just how much that matters when it comes to their test scores.
There is a legion of casual gamers out there just waiting for their next addiction to pass the time on the commute to work. While Minecraft is keeping the school children demographic occupied, could your business come up with an idea for a game to keep your audience interested? Read more about how gamification could be your missing marketing strategy here.