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Running Head: THE EVALUATION OF MINECRAFT AS A LEARNING TOOL

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The Evaluation of Minecraft for Children in the Age Group of 5-7 year olds And children with Down’s syndrome Vilma Sampson University of West Georgia

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The Evaluation of Minecraft for Children in the Age Group of 5-7 year olds And children with Down’s syndrome

Introduction

As educators, students, parents, and the community rely on us to guide the young generation to a more promising future. We create the foundation of learning by our decisions and methods of teaching, and we influence where our future will take us throughout our students’ abilities to perform. This foundation is built upon our students’ learning abilities and it is reflected upon our students’ ability to perform. Therefore, identifying and introducing the appropriate learning tools as resources that fit the abilities and challenges of our diverse students’ population is imperative to our students’ development and for our future. This paper focused on the evaluation of Minecraft as a learning tool for children in the age group of 5-7 and subgroup children in that same age group with Down’s syndrome.

What is Minecraft?

THE EVALUATION OF MINECRAFT AS A LEARNING TOOL 2 The Evaluation of Minecraft for Children in

Minecraft is an open-ended “sandbox” game that allows players to construct, interact, and

collaborate among each other. It allows players to use the resources that are found on their

environment to build a 3D virtual world (Mojang, 2014).

The game has two different modes.

The creative mode is for those players who are interested in building and using their imagination.

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Players using this mode are able to build using the resources available in their environment without the fear of unwanted guest. Within this mode, players can also play with other players to join forces and built a world of their own. The other mode is the survival mode. This mode is for those players who are looking for adventure. Players in this mode are building out of necessity to survive and protect themselves from the monsters that are release at night and their goal is to eat them.

Creative
Creative
 

Survival

Developmental Characteristics of Age group 5-7

According to Jean Piaget’s stages of cognitive development, my target audience stage falls within the preoperational period. During this stage, children are able to relate words to persons or things and are thinking using symbols. For example, my 5 year old son sees the letter R, and says that the letter is the second letter of his name, Bryan. At this stage, children also have a sense of problem solving skills; however, their results must benefit their needs only, in which can be a weakness. Children are egocentric; they do not take other’s perspective into consideration for any type of reasoning. Their strength includes the ability to think creatively which allow them to pretend play.

According to Erickson’s stages of psychosocial development, my target audience is dealing with initiative versus guilt. During this stage children are expending their social interactions by attending the real world big kids school. Children in this stage tend to make up games with their friends or people around them. If children are encouraged by adults around

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them, they feel a sense of initiative. However, if they are not encouraged to become self- initiative or are too controlling, they feel a sense of guilt (Alexander, 2013). By encouraging children to take self-initiative, allowing them to create their own make believe game, and engaging in their games, educators and parents are helping children’s psychosocial development. According to Kohlberg’s theory of moral reasoning, my target audience falls within the preconventional morality. During this level, children are considered to be egocentric in which they are only concern about their needs. Children in this stage will behave according to the action of receiving. Most children at this age think before reacting to a situation in terms of whether or not they will get rewarded or punished for performing an act. My son, for instance, tells me that he is behaving well at pre-k during the week because on Friday he will get a treasure from the treasure box. It is clear that my son’s judgment of what is considered a good behavior is solely a result to satisfy his need of receiving a treasure. They are undergoing an extremely development change and are becoming more independent. The subgroup that I have included in my study is children of age 5-7 years old with Down’s syndrome. Children with Down’s syndrome encounter unique challenges and difficulties in their developmental stages. Their cognitive development includes short attention span, poor judgment, and delayed in language and speech development (NIH, 2014). Due to their delay in speech, their social skill is slower than other children in their same age group. When children have limited speech and language skills, their behaviors may be reflected due to their frustration of communication. However, their strength includes good social skill development, learning with visual representations, and word reading. Their weakness includes motor development, grammar and speech clarity, and number skills (DSE, 2014).

Examination of Minecraft

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An infinite possibility of creativity in which children can become self-initiative by creating their house or community and in which they can work collaboratively and develop their social skills, is what minecraft is all about. However, Minecraft can also be challenging to parents when it come to the amount of time they should or should not allow their children to interact with this creative, positive, energetic learning experience. Parents have reported to have a love-hate relationship with minecraft due to the obsession children developed by playing this never ending game. According to Common Sense Media, Minecraft is rated to have 4 stars in quality use with 527 parents rating it. The most popular review includes being careful on allowing children on a public server, control the amount of time they spend on the game, control the mode that they are playing with. The negative review includes that children become extremely addictive with this game, find ways to be violent, find ways to bully other kids, and the exposure of the online community where they can communicate with anyone (Common Sense Media, 2014). On the other hand, MinecraftEdu was created by educators to support a fun and creative learning environment using digital gaming in the classroom (MinecraftEdu, 2014). Within MinecraftEdu, educators in every subject areas from STEM to Language, History, to Art share ideas that has impacted learning in their classroom. There rating is positive and encourage other educator to join MinecraftEdu to use gaming for learning.

Evaluate and Conclusion

Based on my research, allowing children in the age group of 5-7 to interact with Minecraft will aid them with their cognitive, social, and emotional development. Cognitively, playing this game allow children to foster creative thinking and problem solving. They can create a community and play among their friends, which is consisted to the imaginative play. The game allows them to take self-initiative which as a result will create a sense of initiative and not guilt

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as stated on Erickson’s stages of psychosocial development. Additionally, Minecraft allows students to build their social skills. Children are interacting among each other to create and work collaboratively. They come up with plans to create something awesome. For children with Down’s syndrome, Minecraft can also be used to assist with their

development stages.

With the supervision and engagement of the parents or educators, children

can play on the creative mode in which focuses on building and using their creativity. Because children with Down’s syndrome learn at a slower rate than other children, by modifying the games that includes signs and activity can greatly benefits their development. Parents, educators and children can include game sign that classify the name of each item. They can use this to practice reading and mathematical skills. They can create farms and include the animals that are in a farm. They can create a home and include the essential needs of a house. It is vital that parents and educators have a strong sense of what they want to teach. Also, parents and educators need to have a good idea of how they will allow children with Down’s syndrome to interact, create, and learn from Minecraft. Like any other activities, it is important to set boundaries on the amount of time allowed to play. With the right set of skills and a full understanding of children developmental stages, educators can use Minecraft to cultivate an environment of learning and fun. After interacting with Minecraft along with my 5 year old son and my 7 year old nephew and based on my research, I can conclude that Minecraft is an appropriate learning tools for children of age 5-7 year olds and children with Down’s syndrome.

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References

Alexander, P. A. (2006). Psychology in learning & instruction. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. MinecraftEdu. (2014) Bring Minecraft to classroom. Retrieved from http://minecraftedu.com/ Mojang. (2014). Minecraft. Retrieved from https://minecraft.net/ NIH. (2014). What are common symptoms of Down syndrome? Retrieved from http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/down/conditioninfo/Pages/symptoms.aspx DSE. (2014). Down syndrome education online. Retrieved from http://www.down- syndrome.org/information/social/overview/ Common Sense Media. (2014) We rate, educate, and advocate for kids, families, and school. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/game-reviews/minecraft/user- reviews/adult