Review by James Denby, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2017

LearnToMod

Effective springboard to coding for dedicated Minecraft fans

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Creativity

Subjects
  • Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
5-12
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Pros: Turns Minecraft into a tool for learning coding, has good scaffolding of skills, is great for independent learning.

Cons: Not suited for students who aren't Minecraft fans, may require a lot of classroom time to get started.

Bottom Line: For students who already know and love Minecraft, this is a valuable way to hook students into coding.

Teachers can leverage their students' passionate interest in Minecraft to begin teaching programming with LearnToMod. By introducing students to LearnToMod's badges and learning quests, teachers can give students the tools needed to learn key elements of coding using Blockly (and, when they're ready, Javascript).

Because learning Minecraft itself can take quite a bit of time, it's probably best to use LearnToMod for independent learning. to. Once students are familiar with making mods, they can build coding skills on their own while simultaneously creating fabulous things for Minecraft environments. For students who don't already know and love Minecraft, there are better, more efficient ways to teach coding. Also keep in mind that LearnToMod is not compatible with Minecraft: Education Edition

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LearnToMod is a platform that turns Minecraft into a tool for learning to code. Many students who love Minecraft often rely on mods created by other people, and though they spend a lot of time in the game, aren't necessarily learning a lot. LearnToMod helps students take that passion and combine it with coding. Where Minecraft: Education Edition focuses primarily on using Minecraft as a way to showcase learning in different subject areas through projects, LearnToMod encourages students to create original mods from scratch through block-based code and/or JavaScript.

On the main page, students can set up and customize their server, as well as begin quests and earn badges. As they progress, student builders can earn diamonds that can be exchanged on the site for new artifacts. The social aspects of the website (learning forums and ability to publish mods) are useful for older, independent students who want to extend learning. For younger students, the forums may be difficult to understand. 

 

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LearnToMod is a good vehicle for getting a student with an interest in Minecraft into coding. These students will see an immediate connection between coding and the worlds they can construct as they create original modifications. Starting with Blockly and then moving on to JavaScript, students will have the opportunity to learn about and use essential coding concepts like loops, variables, and functions while applying them to Minecraft environments. 

Students who aren't already into Minecraft are unlikely to use LearnToMod because what they make with code is used only in the Minecraft environment. For teachers, this may limit its usefulness as a learning tool. LearnToMod will work best when used as a self-directed option for students who like building in Minecraft and also want to learn coding. 

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

For students interested in Minecraft, LearnToMod will be a great way to introduce and build coding skills (with Blockly or JavaScript). For those who aren't so interested, it won't be that engaging.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

There are many incremental steps built into LearnToMod. The badges and quests help students move through increasingly complex coding skills in a logical progression. There are, however, some gaps in the clarity of explanations.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

The tutorials that go with the badges are usually quite clear in explaining skills. However, some small gaps can leave students who aren't as familiar with Minecraft very frustrated.


Common Sense Reviewer
James Denby Educator/Curriculum Developer

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