About 5 min

About Minetest:Education

This project started from my own child's education. In 2020, I came across "Minecraft: Education Editionopen in new window" and initially thought it was a good option, However, I soon found out that as an individual user, I could only use it a limited number of times. The full "Minecraft: Education Edition" is designed specifically for schools only(which often have larger budgets) and is currently used in more than 115 countries/regions worldwide. It is a monthly subscription service that requires Microsoft 365 educational accounts and Mojang accounts, so access is limited unless the school allows it, making it inaccessible for ordinary people. This clearly does not align with the principle of everyone having the right to education.

During the trial period, I noticed that if a child played alone without any company, they would not follow the course content and instead play around aimlessly in the game world. They would prefer not to think and engage in mindless play, like digging holes, getting lost, climbing to high places, and jumping off, calling it "bungee jumping." This kind of aimless play could go on endlessly.

So, the idea of using "Minecraft: Education Edition" for learning didn't work out.

Later, I discovered the open-source "Minetest voxel game engineopen in new window," which was even more open and free. Having learned my lesson from "Minecraft: Education Edition," I developed the Quiz player challenge mod first to implement periodic exercises during gameplay and to control the gameplay time. Even when playing foolishly, we still need to practice! Surprisingly, it worked well. Of course, my child still complained and demanded that I remove the practice exercises. So, I gave her a choice between practicing alone or practicing while playing the game, and she immediately chose the latter option without any hesitation.

The learning effect is quite well. Words that are usually hard to remember become easier when learned through the game. My child can remember them naturally and doesn't need me to supervise her. In the game, I gave her math and English questions. At first, the math questions were fixed and unchanging. After a day or two, she remembered the answers and stopped calculating. So, I had to change the questions frequently and even added the "four basic arithmetic operations" question type, which randomly generates questions based on a set of rules.

Afterward, to facilitate game content management, I directly modified the interface of Minetest by separating the student game interface (gameplay) from the teacher interface (manage game content). Then, I gave it a Chinese name "莽兜" which is a transliteration of Minetest. The game is filled with square blocks, and the name "莽兜" is a loose translation that fits well. After integrating several educational mods, "Minetest: Education Edition" was born.

Nowadays, whenever I have free time, I teach my child programming in "Minetest World." As long as she can complete the tasks I assign in the game, she can play recklessly and do whatever she wants afterward. To be honest, although she has learned some programming skills, she still struggles to apply them. Even though she understands that programming can be used to quickly create a room, she still prefers to build it block by block with her own hands. She also knows that doors can be automatically opened and closed using pressure plates (player detectors), but she still likes to open and close them manually. Nonetheless, learning and experimenting in the game is more engaging than real life, and she has to keep practicing if she wants to continue playing.

Subsequently, our relatives and friends became interested in trying it out, and eventually, it evolved into an open-source project that we publicly released, hoping to help more people.

However, I must emphasize that if you don't have the time and energy, it's not advisable to force your child to learn through this game. It's not realistic to expect young children to have enough self-control to use it effectively, at least not in my experience. If you do want to try it, parents must be willing to invest more time and effort into the project, designing the curriculum within the game world, preparing suitable questions for their child, and playing together with them.

The source code repository for "Minetest: Education Edition" is located on GitHub at https://github.com/edu-minetest/minetest/open in new window. The main UI branch is edu/builtin, and a series of sub-functional branches prefixed with edu/ make up the rest of the project.

About Minetest Voxel Game Engineopen in new window

Thanks to the Minetest voxel game engineopen in new window[1], there wouldn't be the "Minetest: Education Edition" without it.

"Minetest" is a free and open-source sandbox game engine developed by a team of volunteers. It is written in C++ and can run on various systems such as Linux, FreeBSD, Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Android. Minetest provides developers with an application programming interface (API) using Lua, allowing them to create their own games and mods.

Minetest has been used in educational environments to teach subjects such as mathematics, programming, and earth science. Compared to similar programs or packages, its advantages include zero cost and the ability to be deployed at scale in classrooms or research environments. Additionally, even though Minetest's graphics engine is not optimized for the latest hardware, it performs well on low-cost and low-end hardware[2].

Here are some specific examples of how Minetest has been used in education:

  • Minetest has been used as an aid in design and for remote teaching[3].
  • Minetest has been used to teach logic and debugging skills to primary and secondary school students[4].
  • Minetest has been utilized for teaching calculusopen in new window and trigonometryopen in new window[5].
  • In the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil, MineScratch (a variant of Minetest) has been used for teaching purposes[6].
  • In Paris Descartes University, Minetest has been used to teach life and earth science to sixth-grade students who cannot observe certain phenomena in person but can experience them in the virtual world of Minetest[7].

  1. Voxel is the abbreviation of Volume Pixel. Conceptually similar to the smallest unit of two-dimensional space—pixels, pixels are used in image data of two-dimensional computer graphics. As its name suggests, a volume pixel is the smallest unit of digital data in three-dimensional space segmentation, and it is used in three-dimensional imaging, scientific data, and medical imaging. Wikipediaopen in new window ↩︎

  2. Open source game developer Perttu Ahola talks about Minetest with Wikinewsopen in new window. Wikinews. 2020-06-30 [2020-07-11]. (Original content archiveopen in new window于2020-07-12). ↩︎

  3. Walsh, Greg; Donahue, Craig; Rhodes, Emily E. KidCraft: Co-Designing within a Game Environmentopen in new window (PDF). 2015 [2019-10-12]. (Original content archiveopen in new window (PDF) 2021-02-03) . ↩︎

  4. Evaluation of existing resources (study/analysis)open in new window (PDF). TACCLE 3 – Coding. 2016-10-24 [2019-02-16]. (Original content archiveopen in new window (PDF) 2018-05-16). ↩︎

  5. Boutet, Henri. Mathématiques et "serious gaming": l'exemple de Minetest [Mathematics and "serious gaming": the example of Minetest]open in new window. Mathématice. Num. 53. January 2017 [2019-10-12]. (Original content archiveopen in new window于2019-06-29) (French). ↩︎

  6. da, Rocha, Jhonata. MineScratch: integração minetest-scratch para apoiar o ensino de programação [MineScratch: Minetest-Scratch Integration to Support Programming Teaching]open in new window. Repositório Institucional da UFSC. 2016-11-23 [2019-02-16]. (Original content archiveopen in new window于2021-02-03) (Brazilian Portuguese). ↩︎

  7. Pauty-Combemorel C. Utilisation d'un jeu vidéo dans le cadre de l'enseignement des SVT: le cas de Minetest. De 0 à 1 ou l'heure de l'informatique à l'école. [Using a video game as part of the teaching of Life and Earth Sciences: the case of Minetest. From 0 to 1 or computer time at school.]open in new window. 2018-02-07 [2019-10-11]. (Original content archiveopen in new window 2019-10-11) (French). ↩︎

Last update: 7/2/2023, 4:01:24 PM
Contributors: Riceball LEE