Could the internet learn a lesson from Minecraft’s digital citizenship course?

Minecraft Education Edition is a popular learning tool based on the best-selling video game of all time. It offers a wide range of lesson plans that use play in combination with other resources to teach everything from science and math to coding, language arts, lessons on cultural diversity, and more.

Another subject taught by Minecraft Edu is digital citizenship, obviously a very basic topic in today’s world.

What is the Minecraft Edu Digital Citizenship Course?

The course, which is aimed at upper primary school students, aims to teach children the basics of being a good, responsible digital citizen. And what are they, you may ask? They 1) respect other people’s feelings (remember, on the other side of that screen is a human being, just like you); 2) respect digital copyright, including intellectual property; and 3) leave a clean digital footprint.

How it works?

The lesson plan is as follows: students watch a video courtesy of GCFLearnFree.org titled “Being a Good Digital Citizen”. After watching the video, the students are then connected to the world of “digital citizenship” of Minecraft, where they are divided into four groups.

These groups explore different aspects of bad digital citizenship, for example, trolling, digital theft, etc. Groups are assigned projects such as building a structure or gathering resources, etc. However, in each group, a character called “The Agent” will sabotage the effort by practicing bad citizenship – in a group, for example, the Agent will at some point steal the group’s resources (representing digital theft), and in another, the Agent destroying part of a structure, an analog to a form of online trolling called “grief”.

Digital citizenship plays an important role in the classroom.

The fact is that students experience the effects of poor citizenship first hand. Afterwards, students return to the game world campsite, or hub, to discuss their experiences and how they felt.

The ultimate goal of the lesson is to instill in students the importance of respecting others in the online sphere as they would in “real life”, including respect for digital property. The lesson also includes a discussion of the lesson’s keywords, such as an explanation of what a “digital footprint” is.

Conclusion

Now that we know a bit more about how digital citizenship is taught in schools, the question arises: does teaching it really work? Will tools like the Minecraft Edu course really nurture a generation of more socially conscious internet users? Only time will tell.

Image credit: education.minecraft.net

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