Teaching In The Age Of Minecraft

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 05:  Minecraft Figures is named one of the top 12 Dream Toys at the Dream Toys Launch on November 5, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 05: Minecraft Figures is named one of the top 12 Dream Toys at the Dream Toys Launch on November 5, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Like many 11-year-olds in Texas, Ethan had to build a model of the Alamo as a school project. Often, students make their dioramas out of paper mache or popsicle sticks, but Ethan’s teacher gave him permission to build his project in Minecraft, the popular sandbox software game in which players build structures out of blocks. With his dad’s help, Ethan recorded a video tour of his scale model of the fort, complete with explanatory signs, and posted it on YouTube. A few minutes into the tour, it started raining unexpectedly over Ethan’s diorama, but Ethan noted, "This is exactly what happened during the battle of the Alamo—it rained." To his dad -- and, presumably, his teacher -- this comment revealed Ethan’s familiarity and knowledge with the subject matter that he might not have had otherwise shown.