How I Use It
I am using MinecraftEdu as a pilot program for a Middle School club. Each week students meet for one hour. There is a different challenge each week (finish a maze, build a house, mine diamonds, etc.) and students compete to complete the challenges and earn points. What has worked: The interest level is high, so the club was an instant hit. What didn't work: Having a large group. The larger group made it more difficult for students to work together. The specific takeaway that I have from using Minecraft during club is that there is a lot of potential for learning, as long as students are focused and learning objectives are clear. Also, it may take some time for students to get used to playing games at school- and that Minecraft can be structured and not just a free-for-all.
I think there is a lot of potential for MinecraftEdu to be used as a teaching tool, but I found that students needed structure for constructive gameplay to occur. Students tend to wander without a clear objective or learning outcome. I like that MinecraftEdu has all the same gameplay features as regular Minecraft, but gives the teacher more controls. I found the teleporting option especially helpful. Students can get stuck or lost within the world, so when this happens I can teleport them to a teammate. I also found the freeze option helpful for behavior management. The product could serve students and teachers better by having pre-made worlds made specifically for teaching and/or centered around subject areas or lesson plans.