2011-2012 Meadowbrook - Using Minecraft to Build a Virtual Classroom

Meadowbrook Middle School 2011-2012

Technology Grant Proposal: Using Minecraft to Build a Virtual Classroom


Essential Questions:

How can a 3D virtual creative environment support learning in grade 8 social studies?

How can this modality help students learn and represent their knowledge and understanding more effectively?

How does this technology support authentic learning?

How does student-learning increase using this technology?



This proposal is for the implementation of a virtual classroom using Minecraft as the underlying structure. Minecraft offers a robust client and server architecture, where students can traverse a 3D space, and build 3D structures using different materials (stone, sand, wood) and substances (fire, water, . Minecraft allows a multitude of students to collaborate and interact in real time, utilizing team work and community to accomplish objectives.


Minecraft also allows for third party additions to the server that allow for a customized experience perfected for an educational environment, with limits on a students ability to cause harm or destruction to other students work.


The subject matter that can be covered in Minecraft includes:

●      social studies (historical structure design, community, team work, economics)

●      art (sculpture and 2D sprite design)

●      math (3D structures creation based on 2D perspective drawings, resource management, mapping, Cartesian coordinates)

●      science (biomes, ecology, weather, day night cycles, plant and animal surveys, building and structures)

●      language arts (documentation on the creation of structures, create a story to provide context to the world)


We believe that Minecraft offers an important and groundbreaking opportunity to create a learning environment that fosters creativity, team work, and 21st century technology ideals. In addition, the level of student interest and excitement over this project is evidence of the inevitable student engagement and participation in using Minecraft as a teaching tool.


Specific Example of Using Minecraft in a Class

We will be using Minecraft in an educational setting within Grade 8 social studies classes. The units covered in Social Studies 8 are The Renaissance, Aztecs, and Japan. Using Minecraft in these settings will help the students understand the life and structures of these times in history. From developing a Roman City as class (understanding of the importance of roads and aquaducts), building a castle from the Dark Ages, reproducing the beautiful architecture of The Renaissance, to building Aztec temples and Japanese shrines, the structures of these historical periods provide great insight into the culture and people of these times. By allowing the students to reproduce and “live” amongst the structures, the students will have a greater understanding and engagement with the source material


Cost Breakdown and Technology Requirement

●      30 Minecraft licenses at $12.60 per license = $378 (as per 50% educational discount detailed below)

Explanation: 30 minecraft licenses would allow whole classes to participate and build at the same time, and it would allow for any discrepancies or technical glitches.

●      6 Macbooks at $900 = $5400

            Explanation: Macbooks provide a perfect platform for Minecraft, and 6 Macbooks would allow     for  a dedicated, always available minecraft “classroom”, that is setup for easy access to the

minecraft server.

●      Minecraft server hardware at $1000

            Explanation: $1000 would allow for a quadcore, 16 GB of RAM, and 1 TB of storage machine         that would easily allow for 30 students to connect to the server at the same time. In addition,    the 1 TB of storage would allow for the complete archival of all the students creations and            allow them to download them and work on them after the class is complete.

●      30 USB headsets at $50  per headset = $1500

Explanation: Headsets allow for easy communication between students in minecraft, and have       a wide variety of uses from presenting Minecraft creations and assignments to collaborating            with a classmate in the minecraft virtual classroom from across the world to another virtual        classroom

(examples of this in Finland are already happening:



Total Budget Requested: $8278


Letter from Joel Levin, “The Minecraft Teacher” (Joel has successfully implemented a minecraft classroom at a private school in New York)


Hello there!  First some apologies...  I apologize that I'm sending you a form letter.  And extra apologies if I have not also sent you a personal note before.  And extra, extra apologies if you've been waiting a long time for my response!  Besides all the usual madness at the beginning of the school term, this year I have also been busy setting up a new venture which I'm delighted to share with you.


Over the past several months, I have been collaborating with a small team of educators and programmers in Finland.  We have been given the incredible opportunity to work with Mojang AB (creators of Minecraft).  Our goal is to get Minecraft into as many classrooms as possible, and to give teachers the tools to get the most out of the game!  We've started a company called "Teacher Gaming" and our main focus will be on "MinecraftEdu", the name of our various Minecraft-related offerings. 


In the near future we will be officially launching MinecraftEdu.com, but since you contacted me about obtaining the game recently, I wanted to give you an early heads-up!


Here are the basics of what we will be offering:

●      Educational discounts on the game - We are able to sell Minecraft at up to 50% off the full price.  (see below!)


●      We are working on custom versions of the game designed specifically for teachers and students with many extra features that are useful in a classroom setting.


●      We are creating our own server that simplifies the task of getting a classroom server up and running and adds the abilities to load and save lesson activities.


●      And speaking of lesson activites... we are creating a free library ofworlds/levels/activites that you can use in your classroom to teach a variety of subjects.


●      Onsite workshops and inservice training for you and your colleagues.


In a few weeks, we will have our website up and running to share more details and let you order the game and/or our custom software.  However, if you simply MUST have copies of Minecraft for your school now, I am happy to let you know that we can start selling the game at a discounted rate immediately!  Here are the details:

●      For right now, we are technically selling gift codes that can be redeemed at minecraft.net for the full game.

●      If you buy 25 licenses, we are allowed to sell them for $315 total.

●      Fewer than 25, are $15 each (so $150 for 10, $300 for 20).

●      You can install the game on as many computers as you like, so long as each game account is used only once simultaneously.

Please note that these prices might change as we finalize the details.  We can accept purchase orders, bank transfers, checks, or credit cards.  Please let me know if you are interested!


Like Mojang, we want to keep the business small, personal, and not-too-corporate.  We are truly trying to keep this "for teachers, by teachers".  So we really appreciate your patience while we get the business side of things up and running!


I look forward to hearing from you!


~Joel Levin a.k.a The Minecraft Teacher Contact: joel@minecraftteacher.net


Links and References

1.    Thoughts on Logistics and Practical Issues Implementing Minecraft in Classrooms    http://chatsworth.posterous.com/some-thoughts-on-setting-up-minecraft-at-scho

2.    Forbes look at Minecraft in Classrooms          http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2011/04/05/using-minecraft-as-a-teaching-tool/

3.    Joel Levin walks through Minecraft with his second grade class       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sb4PYDTfSbQ&feature=relmfu

4.    Ars Technica Examines Joel Levin and using Minecraft in classrooms            http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/04/educational-building-blocks-how-minecraft-is-being-used-in-the-classroom.ars

5.    Joel Levin’s Blog

6.    Minecraft in School Wiki




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