As a first time Minecraft player, I was dropped into a strange and blocky world. It didn’t take long to work out how to move around, and I quickly found a piece of text floating at eye level in providing instructions on what to do next. I opened the Minecraft console, typed in the provided commands, and was provided with a link to follow for further instructions.
I was recently invited to help out at a MagikCraft event, and after watching kids code their way through these custom MineCraft levels, I have to say that the idea is brilliant.
The reality is that we are entering an age where the prosperity of a country is being defined less by the ability to dig stuff out of the ground or manually assemble things, and more by the ability to generate new ideas. This overview of the Intergenerational Report (jump to the five-minute mark) clearly demonstrates this trend.
So, it is not surprising to see that coding and robotics has a special focus in the education system. The Scratch language, in particular, is being used to teach kids the concepts of programming logic.
Actually, most of the kids quickly adapted to the idea of copying and pasting code and supplying parameters to jump higher or fly further. The more advanced kids were encouraged to help those who were stuck, and everyone had fun. A few of the participants went much further, creating custom spells and even going so far as to hack into other students spell books to gain access to their code (which, of course, is all part of the experience).
The day had a kind of hackathon feel to it, which is so much closer to what budding developers will encounter in the real world than a classroom setting provides. MagikCraft is a work in progress, with a few server crashes and network outages during the day. What developer hasn’t had their integration environment go down during development? Welcome to software engineering, kids.