If only we could get students to do the same with the classes we teach.
Well, I’ve been experimenting with it a bit, actually. I opened up the idea for my students to create a Roman villa of their own – they could either build a model, or use various software to construct a virtual model. I suggested Google Sketchup, Minecraft, or Terraria.
I felt that the software route would be very advantageous as students who were accustomed to plopping down in front of a computer would be excited to do so for class. The goals would remain the same – to construct a model of a Roman villa, thus reflecting their understanding of how the structure worked.
It was very successful. Students who used Minecraft were heavily invested in the success of their project and relished the chance to show off their projects in front of their peers. Now, we have also created another project – to recreate ancient Rome using Minecraft on our very own server.
The students involved in the project are really motivated without any grade-driven award. They are quickly organizing and formulating a plan to gather supplies and set up various roles and tasks for each member. They are engaged in team-building, and have clearly defined several short term and long term goals. All of this in order to construct a virtual model of ancient Rome.
Keep updated on our blog Minecraft Romae. We also have a group forum area where students can create discussion threads and plan out strategies to overcoming various obstacles along the way. Stay tuned!