Is MinecraftEdu the Ultimate Educational Tool?

by Randy Fairfield, 5/19/15

Is Minecraft the ultimate educational tool? Despite the compelling and fast-paced argument made in the video below, I’m not sure that I’m convinced. What do you think?

While there were number of very practical applications to a variety of content areas suggested in the video, I did not think that enough time was spent addressing the counterargument that there are some very real limitations to using Minecraft as “the ultimate educational tool.”

The first issue I see is one of practicality. I simply fail to see how a comprehensive course could be taught in Minecraft in a manner that was practical in terms of the time investment that we need be made on the teacher end.

The second and more overarching issue is that of seeing any sort of educational technology as “the ultimate educational tool”. This implies that we start with Minecraft and then try to see how it can be the silver bullet that fixes every malady in education. Rather than starting with Minecraft, it makes more sense to begin with the educational challenge one is looking to address and then finding the best tool — be it Minecraft or something else — that addresses that challenge.

Now, can I imagine a world that Jane McGonigal imagines?

Every course, every activity, every assignment, every moment of instruction and assessment would be designed by borrowing key mechanics and participation strategies from the most engaging multiplayer games.

Well, yes. I can imagine that world. In fact, I am currently working on a keynote in which I hope to take some of the game-based principles Jane is talking about and make them a practical reality in the classroom. Here’s an overview in case you’re interested:

As enthusiastic as I am about gamification, I still have a hard time seeing it as the basis for instructional design. Can gamification components partially address a number of the core issues we face in education such as differentiation and engagement? Absolutely. Is gamification the silver bullet that’s going to solve all of the challenges we face in education? I’m afraid not.


McGonigal, Jane. Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. New York: Penguin Press, 2011. Print.


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Randy Fairfield, MEd and MBA, is a teacher and consultant in the Richland School District in Eastern Washington. He is also a Google for Education Certified Trainer, Edmodo Certified Trainer and Hapara Champion Trainer and Consultant.

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