Minecraft is an excellent place for students to learn in and contextualize their learning. A few basic things to know about Minecraft if you want to create learning spaces in the game. You will need a site license to Minecraft: Education Edition. Although, the elements in this tutorial pertain to bedrock Minecraft as well (what you install on your PC as a consumer).
Left Click Destroy
To move around in Minecraft you use the W key to move forward, the A key to move left, the D key to move right, and the S key to back up. However, the mouse is an integral part of the experience. Use the mouse to move your point of view around 360 degrees. Using the W key will move you forward in the direction of your point of view.
In Minecraft you destroy and you build. Left click with the mouse is destroy. I found it helpful as I got started to put this on a note near me. My typical first thing to do when entering a Minecraft world is to go find a tree and chop it down. This gives me wood to build with. I use the W key to walk up to tree and then hold down the left click on the mouse to destroy the tree. This allows me to pick up wood to build with.
In Creative Mode I do not need to go find materials such as wood since Creative mode has infinite materials in my inventory. However, depending on the randomness of how the world was created I might want to destroy some trees or dirt blocks to give me room to build an educational learning environment.
Right Click Build
Building is an essential part of Minecraft. Sure you can just walk around and look at things, but what fun is that? Active learning requires doing and Minecraft is an excellent way for students to demonstrate their understanding of a concept. At the bottom of the screen is an inventory hotbar. The hotbar can hold up to 9 items. Press the number 1 to 9 to correspond to the item in your inventory hotbar to place the item in your hand. Right click on the ground or where you want to place the item.
In Creative mode you are able to place NPC’s (Non Player Characters) around the world to allow you to provide students textual information or link them to a website. Start by pressing E to access your infinite inventory and do a search for NPC. These look like colorful eggs. Click on the NPC egg and place in your inventory hotbar at the bottom. No need to drag, click once on the inventory item. And click a second time down in the hotbar.
An NPC has two states… edit and playable. The default is playable. So when you try to right click to place the NPC egg nothing will happen.
Turn on world builder
You want to change the game to be in edit mode, actually known as world builder mode. Hit the slash key and type wb and enter. Now when you right click it will place the NPC on the ground. BE CAREFUL not to accidentally left click on the NPC. Remember, left click is DESTROY. I have more than once created my NPC and put the links to the quiz I wanted the student to take into the NPC and accidentally left instead of right clicked on the NPC and inadvertently destroyed it. You can not undo.
When you right click on the ground with the NPC egg it places this humanioid character. Now RIGHT CLICK (be careful! left click destroys) and you will be able to choose “Edit Dialog” to have it give text information to the student when they right click on the NPC. Note that Immersive Reader is built into Minecraft: Education Edition which means if your students struggle with reading text, Immersive Reader will read it to them.
Click on “Advanced Settings” to “Add URL.” This is how I can add a link to a quiz or other activity/assessment outside of Minecraft.
Turn world builder back off.
I had taken a activity from youcubed.org and rebuilt it in Minecraft. Notice from the video I have the NPC’s placed around the activity (which I fenced off each stage of the activity) to provide the player information on what to do in the next area.
Note: you must be in creative mode to use world builder. World builder allows you to edit the NPC’s but it also allows you other permissions to do things in the world that can not be done with world builder is turned off. Hitting the slash key brings up command line and you type wb to toggle the world builder on and off. One of the features you can do with world builder is to place deny blocks to prevent students from left click destroying the elements of Minecraft that are essential to the lesson… like an NPC.
First make sure world builder is turned on. Hit the slash key and type wb and press enter. Now in your inventory (press E) search for deny and add the deny block to your hotbar. If you place a deny block, anything above the block can not be destroyed. So the trick is to dig down two levels (left click) and place a deny block (right click) and put a dirt block or other block on top of it. Now place the NPC on top of the dirt block that has a deny block under it. Hit the slash key and do wb again to toggle world builder off. Now when a student tries to left click destroy the NPC they are not able to. I put deny blocks under all my signs and NPC’s.