I am a teacher, and my main interest is student learning and engagement. When I teach coding by using Minecraft (my main use has been at Raspberry Jam events and in the classroom to help teach coding in Python), my students are more engaged than they are with other techniques I use. When the lesson plan instead takes us into the areas of theory or other coding tasks, the students regularly say, ‘When can we code with Minecraft again, sir?' Simply put, Minecraft lodges itself in the kids' brains, and the coding techniques take deeper root.
Minecraft has the power to engage students in ways that I have not seen before. The simplicity of Minecraft has a universal appeal to all children, much in the same way that building bricks do. When children are exposed to new skills with Minecraft as the vehicle for teaching—in the classroom, library or makerspace environment—the appeal still remains. Because students stay engaged and interested in learning new skills, using Minecraft in the classroom is very rewarding, both for the instructor and the students.
I believe one reason Minecraft is effective as a teaching tool is because there is immediate visual feedback, whether it's in the form of a house, 3D turtle shapes, an entire town or an ISS tracker. After all, Minecraft is a sandbox, which means there are no limitations to what you can achieve with Minecraft—even on the cut-down free version on the Raspberry Pi.
The memories of what the students produce in Minecraft serve as ...