How I Use It
We run summer camps at our facility that are Minecraft themed. We've done engineering camps only up to this point. The different world "lessons" are superb and the current selection offers a decently wide array of subject areas. The teaching tools are incredibly useful and help keep learning a central focus. That's not to say that Minecraft in its vanilla state isn't a learning too, this just provides teachers with a way to focus their attention in specific directions. So far the students have tried their hand at city planning, water management, electrical circuitry with redstone, ecology conservation, programming language and execution, and of course math. The students are always completely engaged because this offers a unique way to differentiate to all sorts of learning levels and styles. I am going to find ways to apply this to more of my curriculum here!
I love this as a teaching tool. It is very easy to customize. However sometimes this can be very difficult as the Minecraft structure is tricky to mod and alter without express knowledge of how to navigate through the files and folders to ensure that you install something correctly. It is too easy to mess it up. Until Minecraft comes up with a more streamlined way to install mods and worlds, this will remain an issue. That being said, it is too powerful a tool to let one hiccup sway me from using it. It can literally be used for almost every single school subject when applied correctly.
An important note for parents and teachers that are involved with this: PLAY MINECRAFT. Also you should be playing through all of the mods and worlds before hand so you know what to expect and can troubleshoot potential student problems and hang-ups.
Don't be scared to try this in a classroom. It is not just a game, this is a sophisticated learning tool with infinite potential!