Minecraft as a learning and teaching tool:designing integrated game experiences for formal and informal learning activities

by G-J (Gregor-Jan) Steinbeiss

Institution: University of Oulu
Year: 2017
Keywords: Education
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2154863
Full text PDF: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:oulu-201704081448


Abstract Research has shown the educational benefits of using the video game Minecraft in areas such as sciences and educational purposes as a teaching tool to transfer knowledge. Most studies, however, address the issue from an external perspective, rather than a student-centred perspective by evaluation from the researchers or teachers perspectives. This leads to a gap of data from the participants perspective and its usage in education. Those studies discuss how Minecraft is used as a simple teaching tool by filling it with content. Likewise, little research has studied in detail about the pedagogical designs of the virtual learning environments, or the design of the content within the game. This study aims at examining how the chosen content design and playability of the online learning environments influence the formal and informal learning outcome of a student in Minecraft. It looks at challenges faced by teachers and students by using those designs as a tool for transferring knowledge and how those challenges are dealt with during the study. In addition, the Steinbei-Ruotsalainen Model for Formal, Non-Formal and Informal Learning with Minecraft will be introduced and validated. In order to do so, a design-based research project was carried out, including six face-to-face interventions. 16 students participated in those interventions and had the opportunity to access to the online content 24 hours a day over a time period of three months. The presented data was collected through observations, video data, interviews and a survey. Based on the results of the study, the research showed that gamified designed learning environments in Minecraft benefit informal and formal learning experiences. It was observed that the designed reward-based learning environments can function as a motivational tool during the formal and informal learning phases. The introduced teacher as an online facilitator can support the learning outcome during formal and informal learning phases in Minecraft. It was concluded that spatially divided designs for learning environments can benefit formal learning, and that designing a learning environment by simply providing content can benefit informal learning. Designs facilitating an online society in Minecraft can create opportunities to establish social connections, and self-regulated learning benefits the learning outcome. It was observed that children need time to adapt to newly designed learning environments in Minecraft, and those with previous gaming experience do not necessarily benefit more than others. Clear rules on the Minecraft-server are needed to be implemented in order to maintain a successful learning environment. By linking theory and research results it was concluded that the Steinbei-Ruotsalainen Model can be used as a cornerstone for designing educational content in the game and for further research attempts in Minecraft based on design-based research.