Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Student Driven Learning: MineCraft Style Reflections part 2

Feel free to read my previous post to get caught up on the "Create Your Own Game in MineCraft" project my students and I are currently deeply engaged in.

The design document: Create, Receive Feedback, Refine document.  Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

Image from
I have been collecting the game plans from my students via google docs.  I realize they are excited to get to building in MineCraft, but I believe the planning stage is important.  As such, we are employing iterative design principals to beef up their game plan so that it is clear and complete.  I am providing comments, or more so, questions in order to draw them out and better understand the idea behind their game.  This brings up the question of grades.  I am a firm believer that the educational system has grading wrong, especially when it comes in the form of give assignment, collect assignment, grade assignment, game over.  I would like for all of my students to earn an A (whatever that really means).  My main criteria is that the game description, rules, story, etc. is cohesive, complete, and provides the reader with a strong understanding of what the game will look and feel like, and how the player should expect to play.  In addition to my feedback, each team will recruit feedback from two additional students.  My suggestion to students who were providing feedback was to read the document and look for 'holes' and provide the author with questions to draw them out and have the author clarify any aspects that were unclear.  I invision this involving several iterations, but I don't want it to detract from the excitement, so students will begin building their game while having opportunities to improve upon their design document each time I provide feedback.  

Wrestling with the server ...

I am using MineCraftEDU and the associated server tool.  The tool is great and setting up a server is pretty simple.  However, I have students who want a flat land and some who want a world with terrain for their game.  In the past, I tried to run multiple servers on one machine and ran into some issues.  I received prompt help from the MineCraftEDU community (THANKS!!!) and got past my issue at least temporarily.  For anyone trying to run multiple servers in a LAN environment, feel free to learn from my mistakes.  The approach that worked (at least in the past) was to install the MineCraftEDU launcher as two separate installs in two separate folders.  This is crucial.  When I tried to run two instances of the same install I could not change ports which is required for the second server.  In theory, with the two installs, you can run both and have two server windows open and manage them by toggling between the two.  When you launch the server tool from the second install, you need to go to server settings, then advanced settings and then change the port (I suggest 25566 (the first port is 25565 by default). At this point you should be able to set up and run the second server.  


When I tried to run the two servers previously, it would work.  I would have to close the server window but could have students access the servers, one with the ip address provided by the server ( and one with the ip address followed by the different port (  Currently, when I try to run the second server it locks up when I try to save the settings start the server.  This brings me to the questions....

  1. Is it best to just abandon this idea and run 1 server as either flat or with terrain and have all students in the class work on that server (build up or flatten their area if necessary)?
  2. Should I have students create their game in single player without employing the server?  (I'm pretty sure this isn't the best answer).  If so, with minecraftEDU can students open their single player map to others through the LAN?  (our initial experimentation seems that the answer is no. It seems as though students would need mojang accounts to go this route.

I had another server issue, but I believe this one was on my network end.  Our students are currently involved in MAP testing so I am displaced with a cart of netbooks for the week.  I set the server up on a computer that was hard wired and tested with one of the netbooks (wireless) and was able to connect and join the server.  However, when I transported the cart across the building we could not connect.  I wonder if it has something to do with the way the wireless network is segmented.  Regardless, the netbooks aren't the idea solution in this case, so I will revert to plan B until we are back in my lab.  Not worth the headaches...

These issues are nothing more than hiccups, but I want to share them in the sprit of constructivist learning.  It's clearly a learning process and I am not alone.  The online community and my students are part of my MLN (Minecraft Learning Network).

Until my next update...