BETT and setting up Minecraft in the classroom

picture4It has now been close to two weeks since the BETT show was hosted at the ExCeL in London. BETT is an exhibition aimed at helping schools develop their use of technology in the classroom. There are vendors and educationalists in the same building helping each other with their use of technology. I also enjoy the BETT show and I get to meet up with some amazing teachers and share success stories.

picture6  This year I was invited to the Microsoft Stand to share my use of Minecraft in the classroom. I had been struggling to teach some of the difficult content on the computing curriculum. I had a very dry approach to teaching logic gates which was not stimulating. It was during one lesson that a student mentioned “You mean like Minecraft”. It was this that made me start researching how I could use it in the classroom. Many of the students were already using it and it was very gender neutral.

While at the show I was very shocked at the interest of Minecraft. It was a little overwhelming. You can see from the pictures that there was a lot of interest in how it could be used. The aim of this blog post is to answer some of the questions about the current availability and how you can set it up in your classroom. Some people also asked me to share some of my presentation online.

picture2The very first thing I talked about was about how you can use Minecraft to teach students about logic gates using red stone. Not only can you logic gates, but you can also use it to teach programming. There is a useful programming mod which allows you to program. It’s called computercraft. I’m going to explain how you can set this up later on in the blog post.

university2 After talking to people about Minecrafts Education use in the computing curriculum, I explained about how useful it can be for other parts of the curriculum. I shared a number of different ways that Minecraft can be used for collaborative projects. In History you can use it to build trenches or you can set up war scenes and get the students to re-enact what the conditions might have been like.

university We recently used it in a careers lesson to get the students to thinking about the requirements for entering their favourite university. Our year 9 students are currently looking at options and we want to help them think about the G.C.S.E’s they will be taking.

With the popularity of Minecraft in the classroom I have decided to write this blog to help you get set up!

Setting up Minecraft In your Classroom

minecraftedu So the big question at BETT was “How can I get Minecraft?”. Many teachers were worried about the safeguarding issues, and so they should be. Minecraft does allow you to type in server I.P addresses so that you can connect to other worlds. To get around this issue we managed to find a website called MinecraftEdu. We were worried when we first signed up to this website. A few people had said that they hadn’t heard from them. You may take a week to hear back after your initial order. This is because they  need to verify that you are infact an educational establishment.

Upon setting up an account, I purchase 1 server ($41) and then I purchased 32 accounts ($14 each) – You get a reduced rate due to the accounts being purchased in bulk. Now it’s important that you know that the accounts that you’re given are not the MineCraft accounts specific from Mojang these are licenses to use in school. At least I believe them to be that…

download Once you have set up your accounts, you will be emailed a username and password. You can log in and you download the full edition. You will not need any of the other editions for your classroom at this point in time. When you run the set up file, you’ll be able to chose whether you want the server or not.

setupwindow There are two types of setup. The picture on the left shows what the setup should look like for a computer without a server on it. You do not want to tick the box when installing it on the other machines in the classroom. These will be your clients and they will connect to your computer (the server). Now when I say server, I’m not talking about a big black box… I’ll explain more in a minute. You will need to tick the middle box, when installing Minecraft on your teacher machine. This will give you all of the controls.

Running MinecraftEDU

runningminecraft As soon as you open up MinecraftEDU you’ll notice two options. Start Minecraft (This is regular Minecraft). Do not worry about this option if you have filters such as SmoothWall in your school. This blocks our traffic and they cannot log into their own accounts. This means that they are forced to use the MinecraftEDU login.

minecraftEDULogin This will give them a window like this. They’re able to use the drop down menu but it won’t do too much for them. They don’t have  Minecraft Hosting account and they certainly won’t be able to access their own Minecraft accounts due to filters in your school. I’m assuming you’ll have filters, if not speak to the technicians about blocking the specific Minecraft website. Click on the Launch Button to start Minecrafting!

Login They will have the opportunity to pick their own alias and login. If they click on single player, this will mean that they can work on their own and they can start to build the world of their dreams. They can choose their settings. More of the controls and help files can be found on this blog entry here. This means that they can start playing and building.

So how do my students collaborate and work together?

startserver On the teacher machine, you may remember that we set up a server? We installed a server which allows us to control the environment. When you click on this button from the launcher screen, it will allow you to set up the initial server where students can work. You will need to set a teacher password this is to stop students from having control when they’re in the Minecraft world.

newminecraftworld Click on this button and it will start up a server settings for you. You’ll have the option to pick the screen settings which can be shown on the next page. I usually allow animals and structures so that the students can extend on existing environments. The great things about the world they create is that it is stored on your computer. You can always revisit it.

worldsettings This is the settings menu which you can change before you start up your server.

serverrunning Your server is now running on your teacher machine. This means that you can start changing the world settings. This is the initial front screen. Some of the screen which might interest you are the player settings and the world settings. In the player settings you can choose whether you’re able to give students TNT and fire power. I turn this off when I’m doing projects. I also change the game mode to creative so that they can’t die. It allows them to just build and work together.

worldsettings2 This example shows you some of the world settings that you can change. You’ll notice the setting at the top is what controls the overall experience. You can include other villagers, maybe you want to use the Minecraft world for story telling, you might want to use it as a starting point for a conversation.

playersettings This example shows you some of the player settings you might want to control. I know that if I’m talking, I’ll want to freeze the students machines so that they’re listening to me instead of playing. This is when I would tick the Freeze button. It’s quite useful for that ‘STOP AND INTERJECT’ moment in lessons.

How do I connect to the server?

directconnect You’ll notice in the top left corner of the screen an I.P address. For the purpose of this document it’s just my local I.P address. Take note of the I.P address you’ll have and write it on the board for your students. When they log into Minecraft they’ll need to click on Multiplayer. They can click on direct connect and then they will need to type in the I.P address of the class. In some cases the I.P address is already there for my students. It might be the case for you.

Joinserver Once you have included the I.P address, you will need to click on Join Server. This will allow you to connect with the teacher machine and other students in the classroom. You can have up to 100 people in a Minecraft Server. You could do a project across classrooms, just remember that it might be more difficult to manage if you have more people in your server.

teacherorstudent When staff or students log in to the server, they will be asked if they’re going to be the teacher or the student. The student will pick what their character looks like and will connect. The teacher will need to type in the password they used earlier. This will make sure that students don’t have control over any other character in the world.

image As a teacher, you can have control while you’re in the world. If you press the M button on your keyboard you have the settings screen. You can have all the control you would have over the server but you can remain invisible. A feature that I like is that you can untick a students number if they destroy something. This means they can still stay a part of the world but they cannot build or destroy blocks.

I hope that has been a useful start to using Minecraft in the classroom with Minecraft Edu, it shows you some of the features and you can make up your mind about how you would like to approach it in your classroom.

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Minecraft Vs Logic Gates

So recently I have been working with a group of students at my school. I have been showing them the new computing curriculum and we have been suggesting fun ways of delivering the new computing curriculum. One student called Joe in 9ZF had suggested that I use Minecraft to teach Logic gates. At first, I had to think about what he was talking about…. Whilst I had seen the value of using Minecraft for creativity, I had never saw it as a way of teaching computing terms. I decided to investigate some more!

Logic gates are a building block for creating digital circuits. Most logic gates have two inputs and one output. At any moment they can have different conditions (binary 0 and 1). These represent on and off. I had looked at Minecraft closely and had noticed that a lot of YouTube videos have shown people how to make different objects. For example, some people have made clocks.

After more consultation with the students I had noticed that there was a big prospect. I was going to develop a curriculum which used flipped learning. How much fun would it be if my students were trying this out at home and it was helping them get ready for the G.C.S.E computing curriculum. I have recently started developing a Minecraft scheme of work. I have produced 5 tutorials to begin with. They concentrate on creating the setting up of the different spaces in Minecraft and they show you how to use the NOT/AND/OR gates.

There are likely to be a few more lessons on here. I’m going to develop some video tutorials for the first 5 lessons and I’m aiming to develop some projects which allow students to use the logic gates.

If you are interested in finding out how you can set up Minecraft in your school, drop me an email at chambers_r@ucc.rutland.sch.uk I’m hoping to build more from this tutorial so that students can see how logic gates can be used to assemble some objects.

Controls / How to use Minecraft
Setting Up the Space
NOT Gates
OR Gates
And Gates
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KoduKup – Day 2

Matthew – 9ZF

Alfie with the European commisioner

Alfie with the European commisioner

We started off on an early morning start for all of us. Alfie and Matt were needed to launch the CodeEU event and Joe and Jonathan were putting some finishing touches to their presentation. Alfie and Matt met up with the boys from Norway and had to attend a presentation.

At the start of the presentation we had a talk on how anyone can use code. It talked about how far you can go with coding. The talk was led by the vice president of the company running the program which would launch coding in Europe.

Alfie was invited onto the interview panel and was speaking to the European Commisioner for Education. They asked him some interesting questions and one question focused on the age of coders. Alfie thought that it would great to start at an earlier age. He admitted that he wasn’t able to do programming in primary school and it would have made ICT more interesting for him. Following on from this, it was shown that coding should start at a much younger age.

We all caught up again later and had an opportunity to look at 3D printing. We were taught by two men who explained a number of different tools. The really interesting feature was the use of the Kinect. He had shown us tools such as AutoCad, Up and Nettfab. Mr Chambers got some ideas from this and may even see what he can do with this when he gets back. We all joked making a school chess board out of the characters.

Following on from this, we started developing card games. We were taught the importance of rules in games and we had to storyboard and develop our own games. This was cut short because we were invited to European Schools Net. They were interested in what we thought about coding. They wanted us to help them with their result. Our interview has been recorded and the footage will help lots of teachers train. Mr Chambers was interviewed about the work he has done on TouchDevelop with us. It was fun.

Selfie with Norway

Selfie with Norway

Following on from this we were taken back to the meeting room for a catch and were then told that we would go to the museum of chocolate! We met up with our friends from Norway and took a walk to the museum. It was great; we got to try 100%, 90% and 70% chocolate. They all had different strengths and it was interesting to see some of the history around this. It was also lovely to see the city! It was so beautiful at night.

After a long and busy day we were taken to dinner at the hard rock café. We all went for the legendary burger and it was delicious.

Legendary burger

Legendary burger

We have had a great time but were very tired after today! We now have to present our game tomorrow and compete in the competition.

Wish us luck!

The UK team

The UK team

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Kodu Kup Europe – Day 1

Post by Matthew – 9ZF – UCC

Confined team posing in front of some huge tablet devices!It was an early Monday morning start when the team got up to be greeted by a full breakfast and drinks. Though we were nervous for our first day at the Microsoft Innovation Centre, we were confident that we would meet new people and make new friends. All of the countries met downstairs at 8:00am to start our jounrye towards the metro.

All of the countries fitted on one metro. We got off at the fifth stop and walked a fair way to arrive at the Microsoft Innovation Centre. We walked through a few corridors and found our way into a big room. We were surrounded by screens and we started off with a lecture information us about how culture is different when playing a game. We made a new friend called Jasper from Estonia. We now follow him on twitter @rebane2001.

Our new friend Jasper

Our new friend Jasper

We were given a pack of cards to play a game where all of the tables were given different rules, but we didn’t know this. The objective was to win the game and the winner moved up a table and the loser moves down a table. This meant that when you moved onto a different table you didn’t know the rules and you started to get confused. It was hard to illustrate in silence as everyone expect us knew how to play the game. It was a really good lesson about cultural differences and we had to problem solve and work around solutions. This will definitely help us when delivering future presentations.

We were then given a break and enjoyed a lecture on Lego mindstorms. This was really interesting and we were lucky enough to use some sets of this kit. We made cars using motors, a programmable brick and a computer with a special piece of software on it. It allowed us to implement our programming knowledge.

The team made some great inventions and we enjoyed using the aspect of teamwork to solve how to fit in different bits and attach pieces to our structure. There was a lot of problem solving involved in this process due to the coding and building.

Playing with the Lego Robots

Playing with the Lego Robots

We were then given a lunch break where we were fed very well. This was followed by a pitching lesson. We were introduced to a man who trains professional speakers. He had won a competition on presentational skills for europe and he was going to help us with our presentation skills. He talked about the Code of presenting. He talked about content, organisation, delivery and effect. He let each group pitch their presentation with different elements and would then give us feedback. He taught us how to stand, how to introduce our project and he even talked about things which can improve our overall effectiveness of public speaking. This was particularly useful for any of our lessons.

Selfie on the way to a meal

Selfie on the way to a meal

After this presentation, we were taken around the city and were shown a lot of different sights. Some of these sights included the european parliament buildings and many other monuments. Mr Chambers took lots of pictures. This was followed by a meal which was delicious. They had something for everyone. The menu included half a chicken, flemish stew and steak. We were all very happy with the food.

We’re all having a great time and are very thankful to be here.

We’re going to look at 3D printing tomorrow and will look at storying boarding games in the future.

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Switched On Computing – Tutorial Samples

switched So at BETT in January, Rising Stars teamed up with Microsoft to create 6 brand new Switched computing units which would help you and your school get started with computing before September. Well it’s now September and some people are still worried about how they’re going to deliver the content in their schools. I used the free samples issued by Microsoft and made 6 PowerPoints and Videos based on the content. I added in some extra tips and have explained ways you could deliver some of the content. I’ve even included some of my own video tutorials to get you trying different things.

Mixoffice These presentations and videos were created using a new piece of software called Office Mix. There is an add in for Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 which allows you to add questions, videos, sounds etc.. You are even able to record straight from your webcam. Our students are currently sprucing up some of our teachers resources and they’re going to star in the videos themselves! Exciting stuff!

I have attached the 6 videos below and have linked them to YouTube. If you would like to download the slide decks, you can get them from this link on One Drive here Feel free to download the videos and the resources but I do not own the copyright to Rising Stars. I’m just using the samples that are available (FREE).

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Welcome back Teachers! – Computer Science Vine

 

vine

Over the summer I have been spending some time making a few resources ready for the computer science change over. One of the things which I have been working on is Vine videos. I’ve only made 5 so far but I want them to be available to my students during revision sessions. The idea is to remind them about some of the techniques we use in lessons.

I must admit, I have been an avid viner for a while. I had never thought about using it in a lesson until I saw an American teacher using it to complain about her day. I thought that it could be used in a much more efficient way. What if we were forced to teach things in 7 seconds. It really makes you think about what you’re going to say in order to get your point across. Not…. like… this little essay I’m writing here.

I am going to continue updating this Vine channel for me and for the general public and feel free to refer to them or use them for inspiration. Here are 4 of the videos below.

I’m looking at doing this as an activity to get my students remembering terms. I will post any vines that they develop in the future.

algorithm

Good example of an algorithm

algorithmbad
Bad example of an algorithm
vine1
Cloud Computing Disadvantages
vine2
Cloud Computing Advantanges

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Multi-Dimensional Data Structure – Example

Some people have looked through the guidance for the new computing curriculum and have asked me what a Multi-Dimentional / Two Dimensional Data Structure is. Using OfficeMix, I have managed to produce a quick video which shows what a single data structure looks like. I have used an Array for this example. I have moved on to explain how Two-Dimensional Array’s work. This video should give you a rough idea.

The reason we use them is so that we can organise our data in a way which is easy to use/sort when programming. It would be much easier to increase the position of the Array by one using a variable. If we had 5,000 different variables it would be difficult to trace each one. This is why we use Array’s as a Multi-Dimensional Data Structure.

Multi-Dimensional Array
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