Minecraft, one of the world's most popular video games, is being used as an educational tool at a Rockhampton school.
Year 8 students at Emmaus College are studying medieval times in history class, and are building worlds within Minecraft that correlate with what they are learning.
They have to do their normal research, they have to learn how to use the normal library … but we hope that with the likes of Minecraft and other things it would enthuse them and drive them on a bit further.Seamus Toman, history teacher
The concept was introduced to the school by history teacher Seamus Toman, after a visit to his home country of Ireland.
Mr Toman said the idea came through his old school.
“They alerted me to the possibility of Minecraft for spatial learners here at Emmaus,” he said.
“We've picked up within this group there are a lot of spatial learners.
“They're very hands-on. They don't learn through chalk and talk and traditional learning, they like to discover.”
Mr Toman said his students had wholeheartedly embraced using Minecraft in class.
“Once they got into the Minecraft, it just went completely crazy,” Mr Toman said.
“They kept going and going. I had to hold them back a little bit.
“They've really immersed themselves in it, they're all just really engaged … we're trying to have a lesson tailored to their educational needs.”
However, he said Minecraft had not replaced traditional learning tools.
“They have to do their normal research, they have to learn how to use the normal library … but we hope that with the likes of Minecraft and other things, it would enthuse them and drive them on a bit further,” he said.
“There's a few boys there too and boys are sometimes hard to reach, and we also thought if we introduce this element of playing and gaming through education, it would motivate them as well — and it has.”
Students excited about history class
Minecraft as a learning tool seems to have been unanimously well received by students in Mr Toman's class.
Thirteen-year-old Jackson Smith said he had not enjoyed history class last year, but that had changed.
“It wasn't that fun, but this year I've always been looking forward to going to history,” he said.
Jackson said he also liked that Minecraft allowed him to take on a different role in class.
“I play Minecraft as a hobby. It was a fun thing to teach other students too,” he said.
“It's good that I know a lot more about something than other people do.”
Classmate Vincent Ramirez said he was also glad Minecraft was being used in class.
“Last year in history we were just writing and researching about the topic and not playing anything,” he said.
“I'm more interested [in history] because there's a lot of fun things to do when I research.
“And then when I learn about more things I can add more stuff in my Minecraft world.”