As the father of a 9-year-old, I can attest to the seemingly supernatural power of Minecraft. My son can play it for hours, watches videos about playing it, and talks about it constantly with friends. But does Minecraft (not to mention other video games) really have educational value? One Canadian research study says yes. Here’s a glimpse into what they found:
With the support of a program facilitator, students worked individually and in teams to digitally build structures such as impressive houses, a soccer stadium, a space ship, a railroad track to the Titanic and the Titanic itself.
Researchers also attended some sessions. We studied the main impacts on learning to investigate how gamified learning interventions may increase student engagement and enhance learning. We used a combination of data collected from surveys, interviews, “think aloud” protocols (where students speak their problem-solving strategies out loud), journals, tracking of student progress and digital footprints. Using these various methods allowed substantial data triangulation and validation.
The educational impacts we found were encouraging. The students showed a heightened motivation towards school, stronger computer skills, greater problem-solving skills, expanded reading and writing skills, a development in creativity and autonomy and increased collaboration with classmates.
The results of the studies we conducted confirm that Minecraft has real educational value. Notably, gaming allowed the students to fully engage in activities that were both educational and fun.
As for me, I’ll remain on the sidelines. But I’ll be observing my son’s Minecraft play with a new form of professional intrigue.