Building blocks: Children's open-ended play in Minecraft
thesisposted on 22.05.2021, 17:15 by Liam O'Donnell
This qualitative research study tracks the evolution of the video game Minecraft as a tool for education and connects it with constructionist theories of learning. It highlights an emerging model of pedagogy that severs these constructionist connections in favour of heteronomous, teacher-directed lessons that limit children’s autonomy and negate their affinity with cultures surrounding Minecraft. To explore alternatives to this teaching model, eight children, aged 6 to 8 years, engaged in open-ended, self-directed play in Minecraft over four 20-minute sessions and shared their experiences through focus group discussions. The results highlight the importance for educators to create a constructionist culture around Minecraft by allowing children to autonomously pursue their intrinsic interests and respecting their affinity with practices not traditionally welcomed in the classroom, including playing with in-game explosives. The paper concludes with guidelines for teachers to implement these practices and create a constructionist culture in their own classrooms.