I teach K-6 and have Minecraft: Education Edition in the hands of everyone 2nd grade and up. I keep a spreadsheet of usernames (which double as our Google usernames) and their passwords, in case they lose it. I remove users when they graduate or leave and then reuse the slots for the new grade level or new adds during the year.
Students can host from home with port forwarding (though with the new version, there is less need for port forwarding), but I do recommend it for hosting when players are on different networks.
I write and speak extensively about creative/peaceful/always day/no player versus player so that it is clear we are not "playing Minecraft" nor "just killing cows", but instead engaged in an immersive 3D multiplayer real-time maker tool for prototyping ideas to use in other places off the computer -- or that our time in Minecraft together at school is to test ideas from our physical world, perhaps even improve upon something that exists at school or in the community. Of course, we also get into all kinds of interdisciplinary work with extending and exploring the core curriculum.
The esports model for Minecraft is cool and powerful, though it is not the primary function of what I use it for -- instead, I am consciously connecting Minecraft to programming, robotics, design, and interdisciplinary work exploring academics and creativity. For my purposes, esports exists more as a club than a class. That said, I could certainly see class time developing the worlds and physics and programming for an esports Minecraft world. I just have not dedicated class time to survival mode competitions and prefer that that happens in a different context.
I try to speak and write about this a lot with my school community. I want it clear why we are using Minecraft often. I work hard to dispel the notion that "video games make my kid evil". I want the families to really understand what we're doing.
I spend a lot of time also with our Tynker subscription working on Minecraft Mods so the kids can live-program their own version of the game. It's a reasonably priced platform for programming and sharing work. And the mod connection directly into MCEE is seamless and worthwhile.
I reserve a block of users for my use as servers. Since you need a user and a computer to host a world, I dedicate a few computers and login on each one with a separate Minecraft user. Then I share each of those worlds and can now assign students to different worlds or allow them to choose freely where they would like to work. The free choice always works the best. Having my teacher computers hosting the worlds makes things a bit cleaner since I can reliably know that the world files will stay safe and in one spot. Plus, it's cool to have my own "server farm"!
There's a lot to do in Minecraft, as you know. I recommend taking the long view. Have worlds available for many years. Let students revisit their work and the work of their various peer groups over long periods of time so they can deeply engage with drafts and re-drafts of concepts. It's also quite powerful to make the worlds available for their own download at home. Extend the work beyond the confines of school.
This is just some of what is possible with Minecraft. Tomorrow you will have new ideas and then Minecraft grows with you.
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