FACT & LJMU turn Minecraft into Exciting Classroom Tool

Words by Sinead Nunes, Editor

A new exhibition at FACT (12 – 18 March) has been displaying the work of an education research project aimed at using popular fantasy game Minecraft as part of a powerful classroom learning tool.

Cloudmaker: Making Minecraft Real showcases the results of a collaborative research project developed by FACT and Liverpool John Moores University’s School of Art and Design, supported by the Research Council UK’s IT as a Utility Network (ITAAU).

Cloudmaker brings the popular and child-friendly language of the game into the classroom environment and fuses it with the latest generation of 3D printing and interaction technologies to create a rich learning platform, where young people can develop skills in coding, programming, co-design and collaboration. It can be used as a tool across all areas of the curriculum to encourage collaboration and problem-solving.

Together FACT and LJMU have worked with Liverpool’s Studio School, artists and developers to create a rich set of materials and demonstrations.

Minecraft, a fantasy adventure game where players create intricate worlds out of Lego-style blocks, has sold over 33 million copies worldwide.  It was reported this week that Minecraft is set to become a film produced by Lego Movie producer Roy Lee.

Young Researchers from The Studio School in Liverpool have been working closely with the team to test some of the ideas and processes that will go on to form a learning resource for other schoolchildren to use. Through the project they have learnt about the design process by used 3D printing, Minecraft and programming to consider how to redevelop a collection of disused buildings and land close to their school.

Over the course of the 7 day exhibition, FACT had over 1200 visitors – including lots of very excited pre-teens, showing the reach and potential of this incredible project. In the exhibition visitors were able to see the results of the research, give feedback and get involved by creating real-life models of Minecraft objects, creating their own smart cards with a personalised Minecraft ‘skin’, passing messages between real world objects and Minecraft  and interacting with the game through 3D printed models.

Printcraft is an online service for 3D printing, collecting and swapping Minecraft models: www.printcraft.org

“This collaboration has given our students an opportunity to push the limits of games and use them in ways that they may not previously have thought of.  They have developed team skills and personal skills and demonstrated the power of gaming and depth of learning and understanding that can be achieved through non-conventional ways” says Ceredig Cattanach-Chell, Teacher, The Studio School.

“The goal of Cloudmaker is to provide tools and teaching materials which make it easy to use Minecraft within as a platform for collaborative design between young people. We have achieved this through a process of working together called ‘co-design which access the tacit skills and knowledge of teachers, students, researchers, artists and developers to create something none of us could have created alone. An exciting innovation is to extend Minecraft into the physical world combining the power of the digital and the real”, says Dr Mark Wright, Principle Investigator Cloudmaker Project. Dr Wright holds a joint appointment between FACT and LJMU as Lecturer in Creativity and Digital Embodiment.

Find out more here: wired.co.uk


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