Colleagues in SHLS have developed a Minecraft Campus that they are planning to use during induction to familiarise students with the campus – this has the advantage of lessening first day nerves of students as they will have the opportunity to wander around the campus and find their buildings prior to arrival. Conscious that students may need to be inducted remotely this September, the team will still be adopting this approach; it will undoubtedly be more important to build that connection and sense of belonging with Teesside University (TU) and its campus. This activity will develop the students sense of belonging to TU hopefully promoting engagement and enhancing levels of retention in the early stages of a student’s university journey.
Helen Carney (School of Health and Life Science), who is leading this initiative thought it would be useful to share the Minecraft world file for staff and students to use themselves. The Minecraft world itself was generated by GeoBoxers, a company that use Open Street Map data to generate Minecraft worlds based on real locations. This has provided the team with a template of the campus to work with. The buildings are all generated as empty shells, but the bricks can be easily replaced for ones that reflect the authentic materials on campus.
Click here to download Helen’s Teesside University Minecraft World – If you’ve not used Minecraft before there are download instructions at the end of this post!
Sharing the Minecraft World file is for fun purposes only at this stage and if you feel up to a challenge Helen has suggested colleagues get involved in an activity around “decorating your own campus”. You can tour campus, decorate or redesign your own learning spaces, or even create new builds and spaces that you feel would benefit the University community. The team would love to see your designs – please share them via Twitter with @TeesUniLTE using the hashtag #TUMinecraftCampus.
As well as having fun this could help support staff to learn more about the software and think about how they may access Minecraft Education with a purpose in mind. Minecraft has numerous educational uses. Microsoft have a dedicated educational site with world templates that incorporate hundreds of STEAM, history, English and many other discipline-based learning activities. In 2020 Microsoft teamed up with NASA and built the international space station in Minecraft for budding space scientists to explore. A further example of Helen’s work with Minecraft is with The British Ecological Society; who have asked her to deliver a virtual field trip using Minecraft for their summer school in July. The course is usually a residential field week but is being delivered online this year. Helen is hoping to provide some field context using the Minecraft work she completed with the Student as Researchers Scheme last year.
Here is a link to a Sway that discusses the benefits of hosting a field trip in Minecraft: https://sway.office.com/QpOlyRysaUNlPvm0?ref=Link
Helen has also made a video tour of the field trip world that you can watch below, if you would like to discuss the types of activities you can do in Minecraft Education, please contact her directly: H.Carney@tees.ac.uk or via @SciKnit on Twitter.
You can download and install Minecraft Education Edition for free here: https://education.minecraft.net/get-started/download/. Once downloaded, you can login to the software using your Teesside University Office 365 account email and password. To open the TU Campus world just double click the file linked to above and it should automatically start to import into the Minecraft Education Software ready for use. The software also has built in template worlds that you can use straight from the game and you can find lots of resources, such as tutorials and training sessions, on the Microsoft Educators Community site.
Further examples of good practices around personal tutoring and promoting effective student engagement can be found in the Staff Guides relating to these areas of practice. These can be found here: https://blogs.tees.ac.uk/lteonline/learning-and-teaching/
If colleagues have some areas of their work they would like to share, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org