I was very happy to read Sara Lucas’ blog this week because it just reaffirms that a single emerging technology can’t be used for everything. It sounds like a cop out for what the assignment was this week on creating a game using Minecraft, but I did find it very difficult to be able to teach advanced math (high school) concepts. I do think it’s an excellent resource for elementary/middle school math topics, but it would be a big stretch to use it to teach upper level math.
One of the resources that quite a few math teachers (that I am aware of) don’t want to use for some reason is WolframAlpha. Their website is similar to a search engine, but the searchable content includes, but is not limited to mathematics, step-by-step solutions, words and linguistics, units and measures, statistical and data analysis, people, history, chemistry, culture and media, money and finance, physics, astronomy, music, engineering, health and medicine, astronomy, art and design, education, and many more. Impressed yet? I would be. It is quite powerful in delivering information. And isn’t this the kind of resource we want students to use to have ownership of their learning?
Don’t get me wrong, I think Minecraft is a great game that can be used in class to teach a variety of concepts, content, and add to a student’s skillset. It advertises that students are creative, collaborate, and problem solve. I personally like the creative aspect of the game. I was able to build a small house, hunt a variety of animals with a bow and arrow, use TNT to excavate land (or kill animals), and “fly” around the region. And I didn’t even learn 1% of the capabilities of Minecraft! It’s great that educators currently use this technology in their class to teach and plan activities using this game. I can’t remember any game that you were able to use to this extent. It is quite an amazing piece of software. I may be dating myself, but I remember Oregon Trail had quite a following in its day. It was a game developed by MECC (Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium) back in 1974. But Minecraft blows this away, and then some!
I would like to stick with my graphing calculators for my high school math courses for now, but am willing and able to use WolframAlpha for those moments where a graphing calculator is not sufficient.
Minecraft Education Edition. (2016). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from http://education.minecraft.net/faq/
WolframAlpha. (2016). Computational Knowledge Engine. Retrieved from https://www.wolframalpha.com/
The Oregon Trail. (2016). Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Oregon_Trail_(video_game)
Lucas, S. (2016). Week 8 Blog: What Minecraft game could you create that would help students learn? Retrieved from http://teachinginak.weebly.com/edet-678-emerging-tech/week-8-blog