Well I was sitting in my VCE Biology class today, and as they were working solidly on their assessment task I was thinking about the 'hands-on' maths subject for year 10 I am taking next semester. We have decided (as a school that is) to run a Pre-CAL stream next semester for the year 10 cohort. I am going to be the teacher of the numeracy class. For those of you not in the Victorian education system, we have 2 basic paths in the senior years of high school. VCE is for those planning on heading to university and VCAL is for those heading down more of a trade path. In an attempt to better prepare students for choosing the path that is right for them we are running a Pre-CAL course for some of our year 10s.
Anyway back to my idea, which is either completely stupid or possibly quite genius (not completely genius, but possibly a little smart if it works). I am going to have students who "cannot do maths" or "hate maths" (their words not mine). So how am I going to get them thinking mathematically and getting some form of number knowledge to prepare them for their future?
MinecraftEdu of course. Someone has coined the acronym PEDLE, which stands for Persistent Engaging Dynamic Learning Environment, and I would like to attempt something along these lines. I took down notes as my brain was running a million miles an hour with possibilities, issues, fixes, concerns and benefits. Here is a possibly brief synopsis of what could be the plan (can you tell it is just forming?).
What I can cover: simple algebra, costings, running a business, budgeting, loans and interest, measurement (this was done earlier in the year, so possibly combine with a costing based task).
What links I might be able to make to the other two areas involved in the program: Humanities, social learning, laws/rules, running a business/economics. Literacy, creative writing, formal letters (for extra funding or loans)
So the overall plan is to somehow create a virtual world where students will not be able to gather resources but will have to purchase them. They will be able to build in designated plots, but the digging part of Minecraft will be 'removed' to prevent the possible 'thwarting' of my system.
Now with CustomNPC's I can have a currency, with bankers to help the managing of the money in game and traders who will be able to trade certain items for a certain amount of money. So basically I need to design a consumer economy in which the students will need to manage their finances, work to earn more money and achieve goals within the game.
I can have in-game tasks being worth a certain amount of currency, but I am also thinking of the possibility that I can pay students in-game for work completed outside of the game. I think this will be fairly easy, but possibly time consuming to manage. Now I am pretty sure I can also get the students trading with one another and essentially running their own business if I play 'game-maker' right.
I have a couple of possible ways to get students to only build in certain areas, the first, and obvious is to just disable student building on the server, however I am toying with the idea of making the server in "adventure mode" (not a default game-mode in MinecraftEdu) which would mean that students could break blocks only if they had the correct tool, but then I would need to try and maintain some 'control' of the wood supply so that students could not make too many tools and gather too many resources.
Just to add more confusion I am also considering using badges for the students too, but I am really unsure about how to move forward with this and I have only a couple of weeks to decide on a path and begin the design process.
I think that is enough information for now. I will start designing my economy and add updates as I can, so thanks for reading and feel free to give me some feedback/ideas in the comments section below.