One of the most popular video games of all time is helping students combine innovation and education.
Opaheke School is one of 400 around the world taking part in the Microsoft Showcase School digital learning initiative.
The project was launched by the technology giant to prepare students for the workplace using up-to-date resources, mobile and online tools.
Students at the school are now using the computer game Minecraft to assist with learning in different subjects as part of the project.
The game, which has sold more than 70 million copies worldwide, requires students to build their own worlds using 3D objects and materials.
The school’s new digital learning hub, which opened last year, was designed through the ideas students came up with through the game.
It’s also being used for literacy and science subjects where students create the worlds they are learning about.
Associate principal and programme leader Nikkie Laing says digital education is helping teachers and students explore new ideas.
Minecraft is helping students “visualise ideas in a more constructive way” and it’s more than just entertainment, she says.
“It’s pretty obvious they are learning and not time wasting… it’s purposeful and productive. It’s another hook for us teachers and the students can work and create together.
“Communication, problem solving and collaboration are the skills the kids need,” she says.
Laing recently travelled to Budapest as part of an educator exchange conference hosted by Microsoft and won an award for best presentation. She spoke about the impact online tools are having in keeping students and teachers connected.
Year eight student Callen Trethowen recently used the game for a school project on Antarctica. It helped him explore the features of the Scott Base research facility while interacting with research scientist Regina Eisert.
Fellow student Hannool Lee says Minecraft is “a fun way of learning”.
“It’s making us want to do school work because we get to use our computers,” he says.
The school has three specialist teachers driving the project and they work closely with Microsoft to share ideas and innovations with other schools.