Today was the trial of my 'treasure map' map. I was working with students who had not played Minecraft before, and I thought I would try something different for the introduction to the game and how to play it with this class. The tutorial world is good, but that takes a lesson to complete, and since I only see this particular class for 3 lessons per week time is short. So I decided not to use the tutorial map and just teach them what they needed to know as they needed to know it while getting them to create a treasure map.
So the map was designed (video of map is on my youtube channel here) so that the students would follow me on my treasure map, built in game using signs. This would teach them the basics of moving around in the world of Minecraft. After we had run through my map, I explained that their task was to create their own. This map also takes advantage of the new teleport blocks, so after my explanation the students headed to the teleport block to choose a starting point. From there the students were choosing land marks and writing down their treasure maps.
Some students ended up in caves, so there was a need to give them all torches and explain how they can be placed. Other students were beginning to finish their treasure maps so I needed to give them all a chest and a diamond for the treasure, teach them to place the chest down and then put the diamond in it. Some wanted to bury their treasure so there was a need to explain how to place blocks over chests.
This is where the reflection comes into this lesson. Do these students understand the basics of Minecraft, we spent a lesson in-game, had they been in the tutorial world they would have basically completed it. So was the learning the same? This really comes down to the 'just in time' vs 'just in case' argument of teaching.
The tutorial world teaches the students how to navigate through the world and how to break and place blocks. This is 'just in case' they need it, I know they will probably need it in future lessons, but they are completing the tutorial map so that we can move on with other lessons.
On the other hand the lesson today was the 'just in time' side. Students learned how to move around the world when they needed to follow me, they learned how to place and break blocks when they needed to place torches, or their treasure down.
So which is better? Honestly I have no idea. Each has different outcomes, the learning about the mechanics of the game in the tutorial world is much better so after a lesson in the tutorial world the students have a good understanding of how to move and how to use blocks, but there is no learning of the subject I am teaching, only Minecraft.
After a lesson in the 'treasure map' map I think that the students understand how to move around in game, so that outcome is the same, however I don't think they have the same understanding of the blocks. But there was subject specific learning happening, students were learning things like how to produce a treasure map and what makes a good landmark for a map.
So I ask you for your thoughts. Each lesson has a good outcome, they are slightly different but both are valid in terms of the learning produced. But if you were in my position and had another class that you needed to introduce to Minecraft, would you use the tutorial world or would you use another map that has some subject specific content in it? Thanks as always for your time.