27 thoughts on “Minecraft: My Journey

  1. Melanie Sokol says:

    Great job 🙂 I also had no idea what Minecraft was…so thanks for that!
    I like how you discussed the observations you saw about the game itself and how you were pretty much learning on the template of trial and error. It’s cool to hear about how you learned from the community itself and that you had no idea at the beginning of how to play yet you quickly learned and have been playing since.
    Very interesting how the community itself is not about how to play the game but how to relate it to education. It’s great that you asked a lot of questions to start off because it showed how you were willing to learn and improve your skills.
    I feel as though the strength of your whole project is the fact that you related everything to the education aspect of it. It was so interesting that there are multiple ways to relate this game to the classroom – there are even lesson plans! I never would have thought that just one game has so many student activities. You engaged in a lot of tweet chats that taught you a lot of different things and even though at first you thought of yourself as an outsider, you were overall very satisfied with the project.
    The three areas of Gee and Hayes that you discussed were “newbies, masters, and everyone else share a common space”, “leadership is porous and leaders are resources. Affinity spaces do not have bosses”, and “people get encouragement from an audience and feedback from peers, though everyone plays both roles at different times.” It sounds like you mentioned these three because the way that you really learned was through the feedback and community itself. A 9-year-old really taught you how to play but yet in the community space, it doesn’t matter how old one is because you are trying to help out each other.

    Liked by 2 people

    • anniemelzer says:

      Thank you for the feedback. I was really surprised how much I ended up liking it. For weeks I was playing it wrong and almost chose a difference affinity space because I was at my wits end!


  2. Emily May says:

    Hi Annie- Enjoyed watching your Minecraft affinity space presentation. Well done! Like Melanie, I had no idea what it was so appreciate the overview. That’s crazy so many people are playing. Sounds like it would be great for the classroom! Based on your observations, it seems like Minecraft is less of a “game” and more of a learning tool, or, how you put it: an open design school. With no skill level required, it’s no wonder the community is so large (and growing.

    It was interesting to watch / listen to your evolution of participation. From initially observing the space to trial and error to activity participating on Twitter via tweet chats, minecraft.edu, and then participate.com, you’ve clearly demonstrated a learning path to your success with the space. Had the community been less supportive, you may have ended with frustration and distaste for the game. I’m sure this is one of the reasons why the game has and is so successful. Everyone relies on each others’ different skills and knowledge levels– it’s how players move forward and succeed.

    I learned from watching your presentation that Minecraft would work great in the classroom. This may be the games biggest strength. It connects classrooms and not limited to a particular age group. How cool that it also offers lessons plans and performance expectations. This is a nice feature that allows teachers to tweak the game to make it work in any setting. Also, students can collaborate with other participants “beyond the walls of their classroom” to brainstorm, share ideas, and learn new perspectives or skills. Sure beats a standardized test, eh?

    In addition to the three features of affinity spaces as told by Gee and Hayes, I think your presentation demonstrates that Minecraft is nurturing affinity space that ultimately teaches participants what constitutes and good game design as well as facilitate learning. The hands on experience, trial and error, as well as gaining and sharing of knowledge and skills is a great example of how games can push beyond traditional learning and provide a deeper, richer, more immersive learning experience for all those involved.

    Liked by 1 person

    • anniemelzer says:

      I wish there were lesson plans for higher education. I kept poking around asking questions about it and I didn’t hear anything about expanding it. It’s such a new concept in elementary/high schools, I can see why it might take a little longer to trickle up to higher education. I was hoping to hear something about it, but no dice. Time will tell though, who knows!


  3. Jennifer Michelle Johnston says:

    Hi Annie! I really enjoyed your presentation! I loved your bottom-level up description of Minecraft, (I hadn’t done one on mine, which I should have, but oh well) because it frames your presentation so well. I also loved how you did your presentation live, as it gave a really personable approach.

    I also really appreciated the embedded media you used. You had such great interactions with the Minecraft EDU Twitter people! It was also great how you picked out language that helped highlight your Gee and Hayes affinity space indicators. Having used this Affinity Space myself, it was great seeing it from a different point of view. I also enjoyed your interaction with the 9 year old…they do really know everything! Also, GREAT hint using Participate.com! I know I struggled to figure out when and where the Twitter chats I needed to follow were happening. What a great tool!

    Finally, a couple questions I have: did you find the resources on Minecraft EDU useful? I myself found them a bit daunting, so I’m curious! Also, do you think you will engage with perhaps a Minecraft server in the future? I know you said you were a solo gamer, but Minecraft is really, really fun to play with friends!

    Awesome work! Looking forward to hearing from you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • anniemelzer says:

      I found Minecraft Educators (specifically through the chats) had provided the best resources. People even had their own Google docs that they continuously updated and shared with others. I doubt I will engage much with Minecraft Educators in the future unless they expand to higher education. If I ended up being a teacher again, I would absolutely jump at the opportunity to use this. As I said to Emily above, I could find any hint of this going to higher education (yet). I really was hoping to see something like this happen. I assume it may occur in the future but no plans that I see yet.

      I learned SO much about it, It’s disappointing that I can’t run off and actively use it. I feel like I rave about to to people I work with but I don’t have a job where I can directly use it. I have a feeling one day Minecraft will come back for me (haha). Until then, I am more than likely going to have to learn how to play with others now that I am more confident. I mean, look at all those llamas I have, clearly I am a Minecraft professional.


  4. loganpriess says:

    I think it was really important that you pointed out that it took you some time to develop your knowledge of a game that is so huge in scope and so initially “directionless.” You definitely showed how this same huge scope of what can be done in Minecraft is reflected in the affinity space in the massive number of ways that Minecraft can be used for education.

    I noticed that you mention you began primarily as an observer, but that you could make mistakes and the community was always humorous or encouraging. It seems like you made a substantial portion of your contributions to the community via Twitter, and that you were able to learn more Twitter vocabulary over time to become better acquainted with this space. It’s interesting how “distributed” this affinity space seemed to be over multiple platforms.

    It definitely seems like you’ve expressed clearly that this affinity space’s strength is in how outgoing and supportive the community is (people’s tweets back to you offering help were great!). That was clearly the backbone of what made this such a nurturing affinity space in your experience.

    The three Gee and Hayes features that described your experience (as you mention,) were that people of all skills levels share a common a space, that affinity spaces lack “bosses,” and perhaps the greatest strength of this particular affinity space is that people get encouragement from each other!

    Great work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • anniemelzer says:

      I barely ever use Twitter, so this semester was really putting me to the test. Not only did I have to dive into Minecraft, I feel like I learned the in’s and out’s of Twitter. I don’t have any kids myself to ask all the hashtag questions to!! I finally feel confident that I have learned how to use Twitter more effectively (not that I don’t still screw it up).


  5. Robert Grotans says:

    Great presentation! I am impressed by your house! I played Minecraft for a little while when the first beta came out. I always ended up cheating and unlocking all resources. Is survival mode the default? It seems that it would be more effective if Minecraft started in the creative mode, as a tutorial to introduce playaers to the game.

    You affinity space seemed very respectful. Did you get to try any of the lesson plans? I’m wondering what is included or if it would be easy to create your own lesson plans. Newbies and masters sharing a common space also seemed to be a pretty big characteristic of my affinity space as well. Do you think there were any limitations to your space?

    Liked by 1 person

    • anniemelzer says:

      It gives you a couple of options when you start playing Minecraft. I for some reason thought “survival mode” was where you started. I figured creative mode was creating your own levels but the same as survival mode. I don’t know why, seems pretty silly looking back. I thought the point was that it was hard at first. Unfortunately, it stayed difficult and didn’t get easier. That is, until I was told to try a different mode. My stubbornness made me think I could conquer survival! Not a chance.

      I didn’t try any of the lesson plans as I do not teach anymore. From what I see it is really easy to create lesson plans. Teachers (or anyone else interested) can download templates for buildings, towns or other strategic games to compliment their lessons/goals. That is why the MinecraftEdu Twitter chat is so helpful because everyone wants to have these teachers succeed. I honestly cannot see any limitations with this game. If anything it’s too open in some circumstances… is that a limitation??


  6. cilantro12 says:

    Hi Annie!

    Your video was very insightful to the nature of Minecraft and its educational affinity spaces. I found it interesting that in order to classify yourself as an insider, you felt that you needed to be completely knowledgeable about all of the lingo used in the affinity space. Your quote, “You really can’t engage in a community if you don’t know what they’re talking about,” really hit home for me. I remember the first time I tried out the larger affinity space, Reddit. I was clueless as to what all the abbreviations, memes, and side jokes meant, but I persevered on. I find it interesting that instead of asking members of the space initially, you did your own research on the lingo in order to become a member of the space. I am curious what made you reach to outside sources as opposed to inside sources when you encountered something you didn’t know? Your description of the space was very clear. I have heard and played Minecraft before, but had not heard of Minecraft EDU. I particularly enjoyed your walkthrough of the affinity space pointing out key components like lesson plans, discussion boards, and tweetchats that are all a part of the space.

    I love it when a group is incredibly supportive of newbies and seasoned members alike. I particularly enjoyed reading the comments from your tweetchats and listening to your stories about the support you received from those in your affinity space. My favorite was your conversation with the 9 year old girl about what setting was best to conduct your experimental process within. I do wonder about how often you consulted your affinity space for answers versus other sources? I also enjoyed reading your response back to your peers about Participate and how it not only saved you time and frustration in cataloguing your participation in the space, but that it was also well-received by members of your group via tweetchats. You also taught me something new by sharing your knowledge of Participate.

    Though you mention you are a solo gamer and solo learner most of the time, I like that you took a leap outside of your comfort zone in recruiting help in learning the game from your fellow affinity space participants. You mention that you felt pretty isolated at first learning the game, but that joining the affinity space helped you to not feel so alone in learning such a complex game. Besides having supports to lean on for help, what other benefits do you feel you gleaned as a result of your collective learning in the affinity space?

    The three features that you mention from Gee & Hayes – a common space contains all levels of mastery, leadership is fluid, and encouraging feedback is provided – are quite prevalent in your descriptions of and participations within the space. You teaching the nine year old and the nine year old teaching you show that it doesn’t matter who you are or how old, everyone has a different level of mastery. This same example epitomizes the fact that leadership can come from anywhere in the space. In several examples you enlisted the help of others (leaders), but then later you become the leader of the space guiding others with resources of your own. Throughout it all you mention how positive and encouraging members are within the space and how it contributed to your increasing ease and enjoyment of participating within the space.

    Overall, I enjoyed getting a glimpse into your affinity space learning journey. It’s fun to see how a game like Minecraft operates in collective learning spaces such as the one you participated in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • anniemelzer says:

      I usually tried to google the larger things like groups they were talking about or job titles (tech related). Some of the acronyms I would catch on eventually for example Ts and Ss is teachers and students. I guess I was kind of embarrassed to always be the person asking the newbie questions. Luckily there are quite a few people from other countries who would ask for the same type of clarification as me. They had a reason though!! haha. Thanks for the feedback.


  7. Dim sum HK-life says:

    It’s so interesting how most of your interaction took place outside of the dedicated space itself. It sounds very social. How many people usually participated on the Twitter chats on a given week? Did you find the on-site forums as useful as the Twitter chats?
    At the beginning of your video, your description of the game reminded me a lot of the Sims–the sandbox style, create your own environment type of games–yet, MineCraft is like the super nerdy version (I mean this in the best way!). My nephew built his first server when he was 12 after getting into the game. There are so many learning opportunities, and it sounds like you really learned how to tap into them through your participation in the affinity space.
    When you said “You really can’t engage in a community if you have no idea what they’re talking about” was very relatable. It took me forever just to understand the language used in the space that I joined.
    I know it’s called MineCraft Edu, but would this space be appealing to non-educators as well?
    You included some great real-world examples of practical use for educators in your video as well, and then backed them up with resources that educators can use.
    I enjoyed your video! The audio quality was great and you did a good job incorporating different media into your presentation.

    – Paul


    • anniemelzer says:

      Twitter chats usually ranged from 35-100+. I was really impressed by the numbers. I only started catching on to the number of participants when I used the website Participate. It was such an easy way to interact with the people in the Twitter chat. Another thing that was helpful was knowing who the moderators were. That way when I had specific questions pertaining to the questions asked in the chat, I could guide them to the experts. I didn’t bother using the on site chats/blogs/forums. I liked being able to have live feedback. I am glad I did from what I saw from Jennifer who also chose Minecraft, it wasn’t as successful because the website is new.

      I think this site is specifically geared towards using Minecraft for more than just game play. Surface level makes you think games aren’t capable of much but in reality they can be used in so many different ways. Minecraft especially has endless possibilities, especially when considering all the templates already built.
      Thank you for the feedback!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Rocz3D says:

    Great presentation, Annie! I have played Minecraft quite a bit and I can relate to your frustration in the beginning. I learned by trial and error as well. I was digging some dirt with a pork chop and wondered why the wolf was following me around. So, I tried equipped different items to see what different animals liked. Then I had a proper ranch started. And I learned to hate lava. Skeletons, zombies, and Creepers. Oh my.

    Minecraft Edu site looks great. The learning opportunities the game provides is mind boggling. I have only briefly browsed the site. You did a great job explaining to me, an outsider, the ins and outs of what the educational version of the game offers. The Twitter chats seemed to be your go-to source for your learning progression. The support of the community is amazing. I couldn’t see any community thriving without that foundation of support. My AS also reflects much of Gee & Hayes’ characteristics as your does. I noticed the “leaders as resources” idea a long time ago when I was would tinker about in 3D modeling forum sites. There is always someone out there smarter than me—as much as I hate to admit that.

    I remember your apprehension early on this semester. Looks like you dove in and really got a lot from you affinity space and were eventually able to contribute to others’ learning as well. The robust nature of that community is a huge plus. I created a simple 3D animation course for summer camp kids using Minecraft assets for the animation objects. That was when I had first heard about Minecraft being used in schools. It made me think “maybe there is something to this.” Thanks for showing me more ideas of the opportunities this game creates. Cool Llamas by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. darrenblackman says:

    Hello Annie,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with the MineCraft EDU affinity space. It seems that there are multiple ways to communicate and share ideas/information, both on the community discussion forums and through TweetChats. It is great to be able to access the community through so many options. I wonder if there are any opportunities to interact with other MineCraft EDU members through in-game communication during multiplayer modes? I am not very versed in MineCraft, is there any in-game communication?

    I think one story you shared sums up perfectly the learning potential of an affinity space. The nine-year-old who helped in during your frustrating play experience by directing you to the open-play section, shows that the perspective of others can provide clarity to a disheartening experience and that the affinity space experience also empowering for younger users becuase expertise comes from experience not age.

    During your MineCraft experience I noted that you found three sources of problem solving that supported your self-directed learning, each with their positives and negatives. You asked for advice form the experts in the affinity space, but those answers where not always time efficient solutions becuase you asked the question but had to wait for a response. You also used game specific media, videos and texts, found with Google to try to problem solve, however that media was static and could not always help with the nuances of an obstacle. Often times you employed your own ingenuity and used trial and error to reach your goals. It may have taken longer but I would guess was the most stratifying way to be successful.

    The three concepts you shared form Gee and Hayes were wonderfully compliments to your experience in the presentation. You illustrated in the MineCraft EDU that both novices and expert belong to, contribute to , learn from, and ultimately take ownership in the affinity space. That the members with the most experience acted as leaders and resources by helping and encouraging others. Finally that the feedback from others is the essential component to the learning that a member takes away form the affinity space.

    I think you did a great job with your presentation. The tour of your house was very cool, and I loved your llamas!



    • anniemelzer says:

      I haven’t used any of the social functions of Minecraft. I FINALLY feel like I got the game of playing the actual game. I am not ready for introducing other people! haha. I think that sounds like a great idea to play with the educators. i would assume that the experts I talk to do not play for leisure much. They use this game in their classrooms as an educational tool. This is just an assumption tho.

      Thanks for the feedback!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. kyleandrewroberts says:

    Hi Annie, Thank you for sharing your presentation about Minecraft and Minecraft edu. It was really informative and I feel like I learned a lot about what Minecraft is and how it can be harnessed for instructional learning. (I had no idea what Minecraft was before) I like how you were able to reach out to the community via Twitter chats and get feedback from other people who were engaged with the same platform! Very cool. It sounds as though it is a very healthy and outgoing community. On the website itself it was interesting to see all of the different options for the use of Minecraft within the classroom. I think that one of the strengths of the overall community was the fact that there is so much non judgmental support for one another. Did you feel as though there were things that were lacking within the space? Do you have any ideas for lesson plans going forward? I think that this space was successful by Gee & Hayes standards because of all of the reasons that you had listed within your presentation. Newbies& masters contributed, there was no top down authority and how all of the resources for learning were pooled together in an easy manner to facilitate learning. Good luck moving forward with your gaming!-Kyle


    • anniemelzer says:

      I do not have any idea’s for lesson plans. I work with adults now a days and not children. One of the really cool things about interacting with the Minecraft Educators is that they love giving advice on new lessons. They actively helped people in the chats. The most recent one that came to mind was how to use Minecraft to look at the make up of plant cells. In Twitter, I think there was nothing that was lacking. I think most people engage in this way and not as much on website. That is like the library for Minecraft, at least that is what it seemed like to me.

      Thank you for the feedback!


  11. Kait Cottengim says:

    Hi Annie,
    The video of your affinity space experience is extremely thorough, well organized, and well executed. I did do a double take when you mentioned you’d never heard of the game. As an elementary art teacher, I cannot go without a day where I am not looking at MC style art or taking part in conversations about the game. I have played Minecraft with my son for several years, I found myself smiling at your experiences playing the game for the first time even as I remembered my own. Yes, survival mode will get you every time. And, lava is no joke. My son and I learned MC together, playing in creative mode, then he ended up teaching me many things he learned both from playing the game on survival with his friends and from reading the Minecraft books. I am super intrigued to go on the edu site and connect with that this summer so thanks for that. I can identify with your frustration at needing so much help playing in survival mode, though. I prefer the cooperative methods of play in creative mode, though. Participate.com, wow. I would have liked to know about that too! Is it backward compatible?

    I think three areas from Gee/Hayes you touched on, shared common space, porous leadership, and the idea of no bosses in the space, were very well documented and thoroughly discussed. You transitioned between them pretty seamlessly and it flowed very well. You also hit upon how the content within the Minecraft game is transformed by interaction. Your experience with your fellow Minecrafter, though they were only 9, was definitely transforming, it kept you in the game, but also with your fellow MCedu spacers helped you to see so many more applications for the game itself. I think you also hit upon the use of dispersed knowledge being facilitated through the MCedu collective. Was there a collective place they listed the things they introduced you to?

    Again, well done on your space. I am so glad you had such a rich experience!

    Liked by 1 person

    • anniemelzer says:

      I am new to participate, but I think if the moderators use it, it is archived? I can go back pretty far into the history of Minecraftedu chats so that is really helpful (especially for this class). There is like an automatic feature that saves links as “resources” when you use this website too. These are also archived. I am telling you, this website is great. I think it works WAY better then Tweet Deck for Twitter chats. Also, it enters the main hashtag for the group when you type a comment automatically. I loved it. I am glad I found it, even if it was in the last few weeks. Better late than never right? Thank you for the feedback.


  12. Nik Unterkircher says:

    Hey Annie,
    Really thorough presentation, very thoughtful and the pacing was really great. The presentation didn’t seem like it lasted 13+ minutes as your commentary and other external clips/snippets were very entertaining and which lent to the non-staunchly viewing!

    I was familiar with the game before your video, as I taught robotics for 3 years, we even did lessons associated with Minecraft- which were student-driven. I knew the game was widely popular and accepted among the education sector, however, I wasn’t aware of the actual networks that existed amongst educational leaders.

    My favorite part was the experience and dialogue via twitter. I personally do not like twitter, but I could see that it would be a rather valuable channel for this game to spur conversations and transform the next generation of Minecrafters. Your realness and vulnerabilities around the game was a refreshing point of view. You weren’t all buttoned-up and pretended to know every last detail of game play. I know for myself, (and sure others) could empathize with the trial and error approach. You forged on and continued to explore even though it was out of your comfort zone. I have has similar experiences with new game play.

    You tied all of your new experiences, knowledge and takeaways back to our theories and applications from this course nicely. It was evident that you were able to make connections and familiarize yourself with uncharted avenues from our course readings. Even though those channels and spaces were new to you, you had the scaffolding to move yourself forward in a productive way. Ask thoughtful questions and build meaningful relationships within the community.

    Wonderful presentations with great graphics and I liked the media inserts that you chose to use.

    Liked by 1 person

    • anniemelzer says:

      You taught robotics for 3 years? That sounds like fun. I was surprised as well to see how many educators have this in their classroom. My first impression of the game changed dramatically after interacting so much with the experts. There are so many misconceptions of gaming that I still believe even after this class. I try to keep an open mind after seeing such success with Minecraft. To think that 25 million people have played this game blow my mind!


  13. bquin06 says:

    Hey Annie!
    Your initial feelings and observations about the Minecraft EDU community were unique and I found them to be inspiring and insightful. Your initial realization that the community was immense and incorporated views from all ages is one that seems to be common among successful Affinity Spaces. Your blind optimism allowed for you to approach the game with a open mind and interest in how to better create your own world in Minecraft. As someone with literally no experience prior to this project in Minecraft hearing your end of things and how the community received you speaks to the ability of Minecraft to be a connector between digital game based environments and social interaction.

    Your observations about Minecraft as an educational tool and the community around that tool highlighted the importance of understanding gamification as a tool to help younger people learn things. The topics available you covered, math, social interaction and history are all things most people might not attribute to Minecraft. The community itself seemed to take on the open forum and ready to help nature of the game itself as you stated everyone was eager to help and approached things with a sense of fun and play.

    Thanks so much for sharing your observations and analysis of the Minecraft EDU community, it was insightful and well informed!


  14. shynagill says:

    Hi Annie,
    I thought this was a wonderful presentation! I was highly impressed with all of the content you included in your slides, especially the embedded videos. I thought it was thoughtful of you to explain to the viewers what Minecraft is before delving into your presention, so the embedded video which quickly explained it was helpful.

    I have a limited knowledge of Minecraft. I have never played it, but I have learned over the course of a few months how valuable it seems to be for educators. I thought the screenshot of the tweet where a user had said that one must think of it less than a game, and more of an open design program was spot on. I think that is useful for educators who may be skeptical of this being a useful tool in a classroom setting.

    I was really impressed with the video in your presentation about the Williamsburg project that some students had done. How cool was that!? I was also enjoying seeing your own creation, and admittedly my fear of heights got to me when your character went up to the roottop to visit your pet llamas 🙂

    I thought your organization of your project was excellent and your points tying into Gee and Hayes were well done. Nice job!


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