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Why Minecraft is Educational

Last updated April 4, 2022

When Minecraft was first released back in 2011, it was not well known. And it certainly wasn’t seen as anything more than a sandbox game for showing your creativity and your chaotic nature. it was for things like creating a modern house or blowing up the entire world. Despite that, the game itself gets updates frequently and the community discovers new ways to enjoy the game, and people even learn by taking advantage of its features. This use of the game as an educational tool was then slowly integrated into schools and classes, and adopted by many people.

Computer Science in Minecraft

Minecraft PC is coded in Java (hence the name Minecraft Java). Java is a programming language which is widely taught in college and sometimes even in high schools or elementary school. I personally encountered it in 6th Grade, in one of our textbooks. I was confused and fascinated by it. Now, there is also Minecraft Bedrock Edition, which is written with the C++ programming language instead.

The game also allows players to create mods (in-game modifications) separately, letting them add custom items, entities, blocks, and even specific events to the game. To be able to create a mod, one must have knowledge of Java, the language the game was coded with.

Back in the early days of Minecraft, multiple mods could not be used at the same time. And in the case that you did want to, you would need to merge the code of the two mods line by line. But, in late 2010 during the beta period of the game, ModLoader by Risugami was developed. It allowed multiple mods to be played without having to merge the mods together manually.

This allowed Minecraft players who wanted to be a programmer or developer enjoy the game while furthering their programming skills. This also lets them explore basic to advanced programming concepts letting them get ahead of their peers

Minecraft Pocket Edition (MCPE) on the other hand has its own set of mods that uses JavaScript, a lightweight interpreted programming language which is used in web development, gaming development, mobile applications, and web server applications. I personally used this back when I was 16 years old to create a mod where you can use the Java commands in MCPE. This gave me an advantage over my other classmates after reaching my first year of college.

Minecraft character standing in the middle of an open terrain. Diamond is in an item frame with a chest below it.

Computer Engineering

There are a lot of Minecraft builds uploaded online. Some represented real life places and others were fictional. Then there are players who upload their Redstone creations, ranging from basic TNT cannons to something as complex as working 32-bit computers!

To begin with, Redstones are similar to the electrical wires and components used in the real world. The only difference is that Redstones don’t explode when you wire it wrong! (Unless perhaps you connect it to a TNT, which is a different story). Redstone also has various components such as repeaters and comparators which can be used to create complex creations.

And now, to connect this to Computer Engineering, the game allows its players to build their own computer infrastructure from the ground up. This lets them further understand how computers work and even let them upgrade it to be more efficient.

Minecraft build that is similar to computer circuitry.

IT Field

For the general IT field, Minecraft can still offer a lot. There’s also the networking side where server owners identify how they can make their servers available to the public, making them learn basic or intermediate networking.. This includes port forwarding, IP configuration, and many other networking related concepts.

There are also logic gates which help create complex contraptions, like the computer, gates, cannons, block conveyor belts, and many more tools! These logic gates can help those interested in Computer Engineering, Computer Science, and IT.

 

General Education Field

On the 1st of November 2016, Minecraft: Education Edition was released. This version is specifically designed for classroom use and helps promote collaboration for projects. It lets students document their work with photo albums thanks to the camera feature. The game also promotes problem-solving skills with its various activities such as map puzzles and command chaining. This allows students and teachers to enjoy a safe space where they can play and learn at the same time!

Screenshot of subject kits for minecraft education. The categories are science, math, computer science, equity & inclusion, history and culture, and social emotional.

To further expand and even integrate programming to the already big educational potential of the game, they released the Code Builder extension application for Minecraft: Education Edition. This allows its young players to learn basic coding syntax and even promote critical thinking to solve coding hurdles.

In addition to programming and general education, they also have the chemistry sets. These allow the player to create elements using its Element Constructor block and combine these elements at Compound Creator to create compound elements such as H2O!

Screenshot of the compound creator application.

Education Edition Alternative

You may think that all those features are only available to that specific version, but it is also accessible to those who don’t have the Education Edition. Some features like the chemistry and camera are also accessible to Bedrock Edition by “Activating Cheats” then enabling “Education Edition” in the world settings or when creating a new world.

If you want to include the programming part, you can download the Code Connection Software and use it just the same as when you’re using it on the Education Edition.

 

Screenshot of the educational edition of Minecraft.

If you don’t have Education Edition or the Bedrock Edition, but have Java Edition, you may still use it as a starting point for learning, albeit a bit more limited than the other two counterparts. You will be limited to the redstone and programming part of the game.

 

Conclusion

Minecraft has had plenty of content that could be used for educational purposes ever since before its official launch, ranging from the culture and location driven builds to complex working 64-bit computers that can run simple applications. The potential of the game was further increased with the release of a classroom-exclusive version for schools and universities to use. The other versions or editions of this game also have the same potential despite having less of the Education Edition built into them.

Of course, this can be applied mostly to basics and can be used as introduction. Developing mods or applying the basic gates and wirings to real world concepts can be done slowly and soon, they can branch out to create their own modifications. They can also leave the game completely behind and apply their learnings on developing an entirely new game or software. The same applies for their chemistry lessons and other science lessons. Simply by starting to explore the parts or functionalities of what they’re learning, like exploring the parts of an eye.

With all those, we can all now probably agree that Minecraft is educational and can really help enhance learning experiences. And with Mojang and Microsoft maintaining the game, we can further expect Minecraft to be more educational by adding subtle details similar to what they have done with the Pandas, Bees, and Axolotls, where they raise awareness about these animals being endangered species.

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ThePlatypus Profile Picture
ThePlatypus 8 months ago

Why is this article and website not getting much attention? This is truly an interesting knowledge of information to be shared with other people, looking forward for more articles like this.

ThePlatypus Profile Picture
ThePlatypus 8 months ago

And I'm not a bot if someone is doubting, I'm a Platypus.

jimothaniel Profile Picture
jimothaniel
MCTOP STAFF
7 months ago

Thank you! <3

Shylor Profile Picture
Shylor
MCTOP STAFF
7 months ago

Thanks! However, I've never seen a platypus type, so can not confirm. 🤣

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