Tomorrow is perhaps the biggest day in my MinecraftEdu journey so far. I have the first time my Pre-CAL numeracy students join 'their' world, and get paid. I am also unveiling my new transcription/translation map, including mutations, to my senior biology students. This is the culmination of a couple of months work (on both maps).
Needless to say the nerves are all aflutter, even now nearly 2 years on from my humble beginnings allowing students to be neurotransmitters in a virtual world. I like unleashing new projects on students and seeing what happens, the problem is these projects suck up so much of my time to generate, and I hope that time is not wasted. Not that I think that will be the case with either of these maps.
I am about to do a video walk through of both of these worlds, the reason I have been holding off, apart from waiting until they were ready, is that the transcription/translation map is relying heavily on an upcoming programming suite for MinecraftEdu, called ComputerCraftEdu (at least that is what I am calling it). The guys at TeacherGaming have finally unveiled the project and are looking for beta testers, so that means I now have permission to publish videos showcasing what it is capable of, as well as how I am using it.
Now if you are interested in getting students to learn programming, I cannot recommend this highly enough. I have been testing some of the early alpha versions with students, and I can tell you that students with absolutely no programming knowledge can pick this up, play with it, problem solve and get things happening amazingly quick.
Back to the actual content of this post, I will talk more about CCEdu in the future I am sure. The Numeracy pay system is not going to be as 'cool' as I had hoped. Apparently when trading, Minecraft villagers ignore the extra data that can be associated with items, so my idea of assigning each student a data value and adjusting the worth of that data value in the villager each week was just not going to work and they would only trade 1 type of coin. I thought about relying on the Custom NPC's but, like the villagers, that would only allow me to pay the students with 1 type of coin.
So instead I have a massive array of command blocks, I have dubbed it the command centre, where students names are checked as to whether they have already been paid that week, if not they are paid their due and then marked as paid. Then at the end of the week I go in and hit the reset button and it resets all students to not-paid and also resets their death count to 0.
All in all a relatively simple to manage system, that gives greater flexibility and accuracy, for a minor loss of 'coolness'. I have been speaking to colleagues a bit over the last week or so, and one of them put forth the idea of live streaming my class. I must admit this intrigues me, how many people out there would be interested in seeing an in-game class live? I am not promising anything, but I can say that I am not wholly opposed to the idea. I think I am going to do a bit of a trial run tomorrow with a visitor in the Numeracy world and on Skype as I wander the room talking to students. Of course this depends on whether the students are happy for me to do this.
All in all, tomorrow is going to be a massive day for me. Thanks for reading and if you would be interested in seeing a live streamed lesson please leave a comment below saying so, and if there is enough interest I will see what can be organised.