The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted global economies, forcing whole sectors to close down. It has, however, had one ‘positive’ side-effect – the rapid adoption of digital technology in education.
The lockdown in March forced Scotland’s schools, colleges and universities to close – with learning and lessons swiftly moved online.
While in Scotland we have admittedly seen a steady adoption of education technology encouraged by, for example, the Scottish Government’s Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy (2016) and most recently former Skyscanner Chief Operating Officer Mark Logan’s Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review, the pandemic has more than accelerated the use of online learning software, apps and video conferencing tools.
This includes turning to an ‘old faithful.’
Microsoft’s Minecraft might not be new. It has been around for a while and has been used to teach everything from architecture to civics. It has, however, like other games proved to be something of a boon over the course of the pandemic allowing teachers to create lesson plans and pupils to learn, be motivated – and also be entertained.
Minecraft is a ‘playbox’. On the one hand it can be used to teach coding; on the other your child can mess about with friends – and this includes in Covid-caused lockdown and communicating with peers via the likes of Xbox Live.
Minecraft allows players to create virtual worlds out of building blocks, in the process creating polities, encouraging discourse and narratives.
Yes, we’re talking a computer game. But Minecraft, like many other games, is also a vital online learning tool and in a global pandemic it’s also been a means of addressing social isolation, helping young people to maintain or enhance social connections at a time of social distancing – the caveat always being with the appropriate parental monitoring.
While schools have returned for the autumn term and we now debate the format of the Christmas break, the pandemic lurks in the background still threatening disruption. One certainty will, however, remain – gaming and the way our children learn has changed. Edtech is here to stay.