Game-Based Learning Talk

A quest to transform education through game-based learning

Minecraft and Crafting To Learn

with 16 comments

craft /kraft/ tr.v.: to make or produce with care, skill, or ingenuity


After about 100 hours of playing in Minecraft over the past couple of months, I have two conclusions: 1) As a gamer, it’s a lot of fun, and 2) As an educator, it’s a lot of fun – to learn! And, much of this fun comes from being able to create things – i.e., crafting.

There is so much educational potential using Minecraft. You can have students learn practically any subject at all by having them craft in the game – all it takes is just some creative instructional design thinking.

For example, you can have them learn about:

  • History – have students research a historic event and have them recreate it in Minecraft
  • English – have students write about the above historic event and critique how the Minecraft version compares to the actual event
  • Math – have students build a replica of a historic landmark to scale
  • Physics – have students build a roller coaster and do experiments on velocity and acceleration

OK, those are just a few examples off the top of my head. But, as you can see, the educational possibilities are endless! The Minecraft world is your oyster.

I’m planning a Minecraft workshop this summer at a local community center with middle and high school students. The objective of the workshop will be to have the students learn about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. I plan to have the students collaborate to create replicas of an internment camp and then create short machinima to highlight their creations.

I decided to craft my own internment camp to use as an example for the workshop.  Interestingly,  I found that I not only had to learn history (research on how the camps looked) but also had to apply some algebra skills in order to get the camp proportions just right. So there you go, history and math in one quick lesson.

I also learned a lot about how to “craft” a screencast to display my Minecraft creation in a video. At first, I considered using FRAPS because I read it’s supposed to be the “industry standard” when it comes to recording gameplay – but it costs $ and I’m not sure I’ll be doing a whole bunch of these screencasts. So, I ended up trying out a host of other free screencasting programs, including:

  • ScreenCastle – online tool that worked great but the quality was too low
  • Taski – crashed Minecraft when I clicked Record
  • Camstudio – failed to launch for some reason

I ended up using WeGame, which worked perfectly (despite the annoying setup routine where it scanned my hard disk for installed games). WeGame is super easy to use – just press F6 to record and F6 again to stop. Movies are saved in AVI format, and you can record your voice as you go through your game.

Here is the walkthrough video of the internment camp that I “crafted”:

So, hopefully this post has inspired you educators to  go ahead and craft away –  inside the game, outside the game in making things like this screencast walkthrough,  and, most importantly,  in designing fun learning activities for your students.

BTW, for any educators interested in joining a Minecraft server with other educators, please see this post. Also, here are a couple of good sites for educators interested in Minecraft: Massively Minecraft Network (community out of Australia) and The Minecraft Teacher (blog).


Written by randyfuj

January 11, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Posted in Education

Tagged with , , , ,

16 Responses

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  1. […] Fujimoto has a mission statement on his website: “A quest to transform education through game-based learning.” That’s a big idea, […]

  2. […] Fujimoto has a mission statement on his website: “A quest to transform education through game-based learning.” That’s a big idea, […]

  3. […] Fujimoto tiene un proyecto y desde luego creemos que puede ser considerablemente efectivo: cree que pueden enseñarse buenas […]

  4. […] Fujimoto tiene un proyecto y desde luego creemos que puede ser considerablemente efectivo: cree que pueden enseñarse buenas […]

  5. […] Code Racer es un sitio web donde aprenderás a programar compitiendo con otros usuarios online y ganando insignias cada vez que consigas un logros participando en duelos. Esta no es la primera ni el última web de este estilo, ya que por ejemplo existe otra con la que también aprendemos online, pero esta vez con una temática diferente, historia. […]

  6. […] Fujimoto has a mission statement on his website: “A quest to transform education through game-based learning.” That’s a big idea, to be sure, […]

  7. […] Más info |   Shoyulearning […]

  8. […] concepto es en el que se basa el proyecto que estoy a punto de presentarles. Bajo el nombre de  Shoyulearning, un profesor japonés ha decidido llevar nada menos que el conocido juego Minecraft a las clases […]

  9. Looking forward to sharing ideas – As you know last August I launched a Minecraft project on the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp; and got a baptism in how it can work with Mozilla’s new popcorn.js web interactive tools at an ITVS-Mozilla Foundation innovation lab. So after running into you at DIY Days last fall, it’s exciting that the idea is spreading! Would love to post a screenshot of the Heart Mountain barrack constructed by my 12-year-old son, Gabriel when he visited the opening of the interpretive center last summer. To give credit where credit is due, the whole Minecraft virtual camp is really his idea, not mine! He interviewed his grandparents, searched photos and blueprints of the camp to create his project.

    Renee Tajima-Pena

    January 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm

  10. […] Fujimoto has a mission statement on his website: “A quest to transform education through game-based learning.” That’s a big idea, to be sure, […]

  11. Hopefully we’ll see game based learning improve! From the game to learn team

    Alan Reid

    February 9, 2012 at 3:07 am

  12. Minecraft is an excellent learning tool! You should check out my New Zealand based Minecraft Server


    February 17, 2012 at 5:15 pm

  13. We did dioramas back in the elementary. I learned how to cut paper and paste it. I learned very little about actual events and history. You need only very little history in order to recreate it in diorama, Minecraft, lego or whatever else.

    I’m not really sure how making scaled replica teaches math. You have to be able to divide, but that is it. The most of the time is spent digging and placing bricks. The whole activity involves 5 minutes of math and hours of everything else.

    I’m sorry to be skeptical, but I’m tired of seeing kids spending hours doing supposedly fun activities with some marginally educational benefit. They spend ten minutes on research, learn a bit about how it looked like (not why it happened, when it happened sometimes not even who did it) and then they spend hours building or cutting or whatever. They know no history in the end.

    OK, they are not bad in doing projects which is some benefit.


    August 10, 2012 at 1:23 am

    • Thanks for your comments. I can see how some “fun” activities can have marginal educational benefit, but these are generally poorly structured activities in which the pedagogy has not been well thought out. A well-structured activity, using games or otherwise, is much like a project-based lesson, in which the research/learning and doing/creating are intertwined. Therefore, it’s not, like you say, “5 minutes of math and hours of everything else.” The power of game-based learning comes from being actively engaged in both the doing and learning at the same time.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts here, and I hope you can become less skeptical as you see other well-planned game-based learning activities. You can probably find many that are mentioned in these GBL blogs: – not a shameful plug for my blog because it didn’t make the list! 🙂



      August 10, 2012 at 8:38 am

  14. […] wie ich gerade merke, in Japan hat das Randy Fujimoto versucht und schildert seine Erfahrungen in seinem Blog. Natürlich fehlt es den Klötzchen an Authentizität, was man bei Fujimotos Lager schnell bemerkt […]

  15. […] One teacher suggested having students build replicas of a historic landmark to scale. For example: this scale replica of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile. Bonus: this can tie in perfectly with a history lesson! […]

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