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The Dublin-based company, Prodigy Learning, has developed an educational version of the wildly popular video game Minecraft. If they have their way, this video game will soon be part of the Irish online gaming school curriculum. 

If you are the parent or caretaker of a young child, you have no doubt heard of Minecraft. Minecraft catches the imagination of children around the age of 4 or 5-years-old, which is around the time they would normally begin kindergarten. In the United States, there were approximately 55.6m kindergarten or school-aged children in 2018.

Why do we need this?

Educators in the UK and the US are reporting a skills gap in computer science. Computer science is very important in today’s society. It is becoming of greater importance as our world becomes more technologically driven. It is hoped that the coding built it to this educational version will bridge that gap. It will strengthen the gap. It will ignite a flame in the minds of the young children that will help them grow in an area that will help them succeed and ensure the growth of their nation.   

How popular is this game?

Microsoft reports that this game is one of the most popular games of all time for younger children. In the United States, 51% of children between the ages of 9-years-old and 11-years-old play Minecraft. That is just one, age group. The numbers are staggering. Keep in mind, these Minecraft games are made for the school system. They may play like a normal game to your child, but there are differences. They are designed to fit into a particular spot in the curriculum. You cannot take the winnings from your online scratch cards, go buy the game, and think you have it covered. You need to be involved in this process. This is about your child’s education. 

The Pilot Program

Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland, said the growth achieved by the Prodigy would deliver skills to a whole new generation and improve employability and productivity.  

In the past year, 4000 students in the UK and US have participated in the pilot program. The program included 114 schools and 200 teachers. 

The curriculum has been aligned with teaching and computer science standards in both jurisdictions.

This is just the beginning. The fact is, there are many ways that children can be taught with the use of video gaming. There is a reason why some children grasp a game and excel. The way a child’s mind is wired is a mystery. Why some people can grasp mathematics so easily and how puzzles fit together in their minds while others struggle, is unexplainable. This could be a step to unlocking those mysteries. This could be a way of advancing the human brain and the world. 

Photo credit: Comfreak

Tools of education

Anything placed in the hand of an educator becomes a tool for learning. Anything the sparks the mind with excitement, creativity, inspiration, and curiosity, is a tool for learning. When the tool is something that is enjoyable and self-promoting, children will continue to learn as long as they are allowed to. As long as there is a teacher to encourage them to the next logical step and refusing to allow them to get stuck in a place of stagnation, growth will occur. This is the vision of Minecraft for education. So far, great progress is being shown. We are all hoping for a great outcome.

Post Author: Adam Conway

An Irish technology fanatic in his second year of a Computer Science degree. Lover of smartphones, cybersecurity and Counter Strike. You can contact me at adam.conway@irishtech.ie.