Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Let's empower APS students to design school & campus public spaces!

I like to tell those close to me how Minecraft empowers people to change the world, which usually leads to eye rolling and the occasional snarky remark to get a life as it's just a video game. In reality though, it is so much more than a video game - I posit that it is a tool to connect people to collaborate and create for fun, but also for positively impacting communities.

Real World Examples

For example, in her blog post, "How 'Minecraft' is Transforming Developing Cities Around the World," Chelsea Stark does a fine job of sharing how community members (even those who've never used a computer before) leverage Minecraft to redesign public spaces in developing countries.  This effort was created by the United Nations and is part of a program called Block by Block.  Reading and looking at pictures about this made me think about how we might use such a model right here in the city of Aurora to positively impact our community.

Skill Building & Agency

What if APS students had a say in how the grounds around the school were designed?  Where ball courts were located, gardens planted, landscaping and paths placed?  Many of our students have already dabbled with designing their own creations in Minecraft, why not extend it to real life?  One great thing about Minecraft is that a server can be set up for many students to team together to collaborate on such projects.  This allows for our students to not only demonstrate communication, collaboration, creativity, and a gamut of other skills (of which we are beginning to digitally badge), but it also creates a sense of connectedness to place and the larger community.  And as the Haiti example from the blog post above demonstrates, even those student who haven't used Minecraft can be a part of the process given access and a chance to learn.

Community Pride

We can give agency to our students to use their imaginations and have a voice at the table as we continue to design new schools, revamp old ones, and convert public spaces to those that foster community and a sense of pride!  The sky is the limit when using Minecraft and our students can play an active roll in shaping their future and their children's by being empowered to contribute to the design process of the spaces they use.


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