Still wondering if Minecraft can be educational?

One of the best write-ups we’ve seen about how teachers and students are using Minecraft in intriguing and real-world ways, can be found here on Quartz.

The following video was a quick project created by one kid, here’s what his mom said:

Last week, I had reached out for help in finding a tool to create a simulated water filtration plant. One coach recommended using Minecraft. My son is a Minecraft aficionado; he had not thought to use it. All I had to do was mention using it, and he was off and running. On Saturday morning, I walked into the room and found that he had already created half of the simulation. On Sunday, we discussed how we were going to capture the video, since he did it on the xBox, not on the computer. Rather than invest in a capture card ($20-$2,500), we experimented with simply setting up a camera on a tripod. It worked. On Monday night, he finished creating it. This morning, we recorded it.

This was an extra credit project. He is using all of the vocabulary learned in the unit. He is talking about the content. He has internalized the process. Sounds like content area literacy to me. 😉



Modern Storytelling & Pop Culture Studies

Many Zulama courses study pop culture: Modern Storytelling examines Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Almost Famous, among other shows. Games Through the Ages examines cultures and the games they played throughout history, including in recent times. And so on. Does the study of pop culture have academic merit? What do you think? Do you teach pop culture? If so, let us know!

When Pop Culture & Academia Collide

Chromebook vs the iPad

I am a complete Apple-a-holic, a true devotee. I love all of myApple products, although have never really enjoyed Safari. Chrome is my browser of choice. Being able to type anything I want in the place where (on other browsers) you must type an actual url is a huge convenience and time-saver for me!

I’ve been watching as schools and kids just can’t wait to get their hands on iPads—understandably so. However, the reality of maintaining the proper app licensing in a school setting where an iPad is shared among multiple users very quickly becomes a sobering chore for some unlucky teacher or IT person.

Along comes the ChromeBook 5—I’ve seen lots of positive reviews as well as some negative reviews. For schools in particular, I would think the idea of using the computer as an access device would be particularly intriguing. The devices become truly interchangeable, no software licensing issues to deal with, and no excuses that homework files were overwritten or left on the home computer. If each student only needs access to a device, and the internet, to do their work, does that not establish an incredibly efficient and liberating IT infrastructure?

As much as I LOVE the iPad . . . at least for schools, a next-gen laptop is the must-have tool. Agree or disagree?!