Teaching Agile with Minecraft

A few years ago, I got involved for the first time in the Agile community in Argentina, very rapidly, the feeling of willing to transfer this concepts to everybody started emerging in me.

Two years ago, I started being an assistant teacher at a class called "Methodologies for Team Conduction" in my university, in which my job, aside from grading tests and practices, was to teach my experiences working in Systems Engineering and to create an Agile Methodologies assignment in which students could get a grasp on what being Agile meant for a team, and how could this impact in their day to day work.

This lesson has been doing really well with how we were teaching it, until this semester, when we found that one of the two courses we teach was lacking engagement (not just for the Agile class, it was like that all the time), which really got me into thinking on how could we improve our way of teaching in order to make it the most engaging possible.

Enter Minecraft

Since it's release, I've been an elusive player, but a faithful follower of the game and some of it's most reknowned players. And for all this time, I've noticed that there is a lot of people using the game in so many ways other than it's original "build a house, survive the night" marketing, that it really intrigued me on how I could benefit from knowing all this.

I was totally blank until last week, when I saw a documentary about Game Story Development, in which it's second part it talks about kids using Minecraft in their schools, and that as a result they were getting team-quality approaches to solving problems.

So after a few days of work, I got a prototype map in which 8 teams can work on a blank slate of land, in which we define some goals and we have Scrum-like iterations for the students to make their planning, development and retrospectives.

Last night, I invited the rest of the teachers to help me playtest this concept. And the results were more than great! It was really, really fun to do this activity. It also helped me understand what to improve in order to allow for better interaction with the students, and also taught me that the entry barrier is near to none, as one of the teachers had never played Minecraft before, and was completely into the activity after the first 5 minutes of the playtest.

Next Steps

I still need to finish the map, and have it completely polished before we release it into the university. But our first test was more than successful.

Next we need to try it out in the University, see how the students take it.

I hope this is a great success!




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