Edutainment: Learn to Code While Playing Minecraft!
Image source: https://mspoweruser.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/code-builder-minecraft.jpg
By this point in time, we are probably all familiar with the Java-based wonder that is Minecraft, which became one of the most beloved PC games that attracted both children and adults. These days, calling it a PC game doesn’t really do it justice as it has been available on just about every other platform thanks to Minecraft: Bedrock Edition; Not only is it available on just about every kind of device with a screen attached to it (it’s even available on Chromebook now), but it’s no longer really just a game anymore: it is also a tool used to teach which helps to encourage learning in it’s many forms.
The newest edition on the market is called Minecraft: Education Edition and it is based off of bedrock’s code, and if you are like me, and own every version on your windows PC, you know that bedrock is very well optimized and runs like a dream, though it may be lacking in some functionality that veteran players have come to appreciate (Personally, I think bedrock’s biggest crime is not having a Hardcore Survival mode, what’s up with that?). Enough about that though, today I am here to discuss what makes Minecraft: Education Edition worth your while.
I had heard about Education Edition a few years back and had just assumed that it was tailored to children, and that is true to some extent, but it was not until I joined the Concordia library as a technology sandbox assistant and immediately joined its Minecraft server that I realized how powerful and interesting the product is. Minecraft Education Edition features all kinds of built in tools an tutorials to teach and assist teachers in many subjects in the STEM (Science, Technology, Math, & Engineering) fields. You can visit their page here to learn how Minecraft: EE is being used for remote learning and all kinds of other projects; You can also take a look at their exhaustive library of lessons here.
As you can see, there is a wide variety of lessons and tools that are geared for folks of all ages, and so it is no surprise that Concordia University also makes use of this amazing resource! Many of you may not realize, but if you are a current student at Concordia University, Minecraft: Education Edition is available to you at no cost and the Libraries’ Technology Sandbox happens to host a server that all students are welcome to (and encouraged) to join! Our very Own Sean “Tailor” Cooney wrote a detailed article on this already, which explains exactly how to get your hands on Mincraft: EE for free and how to join the libraries’ server. If you have read this far already then you will want to go ahead and click that link, it only takes bout 10-20 minutes to follow through and get everything you need to enjoy such an amazing resource.
Now, one of the most interesting features that I discovered upon logging into the library server for the first time was a powerful built-in feature known as “Code Builder”. It would seem that not only does Minecraft: Education Edition have a built-in coding feature, but it also has dozens of hours worth of built in tutorials that you can follow along with and getting started is as easy as pressing “C” on your keyboard! Once you get started, you will summon someone called an “agent” which is your own personal little Golem and this little one will become a familiar face as it will do exactly as you command it through code that you write yourself; If you want to attempt to learn Python while playing Minecraft like I do, then your agent will be your best friend and traveling companion.
As you can see, it really is as easy as pressing “C” to access the coding feature, in fact the game encourages you to find it easily by reminding you to check the control by pressing “H”.
Accessing the menu presents you with many exciting features: three different code editors!? Pretty cool, and I do plan on taking an extensive look at those editors as well as many of the other features in Minecraft: EE, but for now we are concerned with Python!
Selecting the “Learn to Code in Python” option will present you with extensive built in lessons and tutorials beginning with how to summon your agent for the first time, teleport them and move them around normally, and of course being in Python, the coding language is quite intuitive, easy to recall afterwards and is also written and executed within the tutorial’s graphical interface: Some examples are agent.teleport() or agent.move(“forward”) or agent.turn(“right”).
So what are you still doing here? Go on and read the linked article above on how to obtain the game for free, join the library server and get to coding and learning all kinds of other neat stuff! Keep in mind you may want to try the tutorials in your own sandbox server first because the library server is a survival server. The reason you want sandbox mode for the earlier tutorials is that they sometimes ask you to use certain materials that take some time to obtain (by all means obtain them normally if you want! We aren’t just learning to code Python after all, we are still playing Minecraft!), but in sandbox mode you can spawn them in easily! Either way, the code builder has full functionality within a single player server as well as the library server, so come on over and join us, maybe I will see you there! Happy Building, Happy Coding!