Sunday, 14 May 2017

‘From teacher to certified Minecraft: Education Edition trainer in South Africa’ – a guest post featuring Dominique Cave

This is a guest post featuring Dominique Cave (@dominiquecave), the only Minecraft Certified

Educator currently in South Africa. Dominique is a teacher with 23 years of classroom experience, teaching students from pre-school age to Year 13. Her experience has been largely in international schools – she has worked in the UK, Swaziland, Malaysia, Dubai and Kenya. Most recently she was Director of ICT at Hillcrest International schools in Nairobi. Since giving up full time teaching, she has been working for Computers 4 Kids, creating learning materials for Minecraft: Education Edition. Computer 4 Kids has been working on this for the past 8 months, learning how best to use this wonderful tool to support learning in South African classrooms. Dominique has also been lucky enough to travel to Dubai to train with Neal Manegold and Meenoo Rami of the Minecraft: Education Edition team, and she is now a Certified Minecraft Trainer. Why not invite Dominique to conduct a training session on using Minecraft: Education Edition at your school?


If you want to know anything about using Minecraft in your classroom in South Africa, Dominique Cave is the person to approach. She is a teacher with 23 years of international and local classroom experience teaching students from pre-school age to Year 13. If you had told her, when she started teaching, that she would become the first (and currently, the only) Minecraft Certified Educator in South Africa, she wouldn’t have believed you!

Dominique's Minecraft: Education Edition certifications

Learning about Minecraft: Education Edition
Dominique learned about Minecraft Education Edition through Computers 4 Kids when they asked her to investigate whether she could create some lessons based on the product. She then had to learn how to play Minecraft and experiment with the new versions as Microsoft started to release Minecraft: Education Edition. It wasn’t until she got her 10 year old daughter on board, that she really learned how it all works. Her ten year-old spends hours watching YouTube videos to learn new things, and shares her learning with her mum! "Most classroom teachers don’t have time for researching to that extent. This is why it is so important to have a product like Computers 4 Kids Minecraft lessons where the research work has been done and worlds have been set up ready for teachers to use in their classrooms. We provide ‘Skills Cards’ with all the necessary Minecraft Skills in ‘bite sized’ chunks. These are linked to lessons so that everything a teacher needs to know for a particular lesson is available,” says Dominique. 

Minecraft In the Classroom workshop about to happen!

The importance of using technology to integrate subjects in education
Dominique believe education is about more than teaching facts;  it is about learning how to learn. Technology in our classrooms really helps us to have access to tools which can help in this quest for new skills and a culture of lifelong learning. She comments: “I also think that education should be integrated. By that I mean that individual ‘subjects’ should be interconnected and cross-disciplinary studies should be what we strive for.” Technology, and using a tool like Minecraft: Education Edition can facilitate this kind of learning.

Girls at Hillcrest International School playing Minecraft: Education Edition

Minecraft training in Dubai earlier in 2017
When asked about her recent training experience in Dubai concerning Minecraft: Education Edition Dominque explained: “Jethro MacDonald (Computers 4 Kids Business Development Manager) and myself were invited to attend the Minecraft Education Edition Partner training at Microsoft Headquarters in Dubai. Megan Rademeyer (Schoolnet) and Elsabe Hart (Microsoft Schools Ambassador in Cape Town) were also present. The four of us were given training to become Microsoft Education Edition Certified Trainers. I am also currently the only Minecraft Certified Educator in South Africa. This is something which we will hopefully change over the course of the next couple of months by training more teachers to use Minecraft Education Edition in their classrooms. We were lucky enough to be trained by Neal Manegold and Meenoo Rami who are the two senior members of the Minecraft Education Edition team."

Microsoft Head Office in Dubai

Dominique showing her training colleagues how to place blocks using the Fill
command in Minecraft: Education Edition at Microsoft in Dubai.

Why should teachers use Minecraft in their classrooms?
Dominique believes that one reason teachers should use Minecraft Education Edition in their classrooms because it provides an opportunity for their students to learn through play. “As a preschool teacher I learned the value of ‘playing’ particularly role-play for young children, but I think this is a valuable method for children of all ages to learn new things. The fact that Minecraft has been developed to mimic some of nature’s ‘rules’ (things like gravity work in Minecraft) means that this becomes a valuable simulation environment.”

For further ideas on why you should use Minecraft: Education Edition in your classroom.see our SchoolNet blog post entitled: 'Introducing Minecraft: Education Edition – what it is and why you should think about using it in your classroom'. 


Link to post: http://bit.ly/2oaeDBB

How to get started with Minecraft: Education Edition
Minecraft: Education Edition was officially launched in South Africa earlier this year. The best way to get Minecraft: Education Edition for your school is via Office 365. What makes Education Edition great for teachers is that it utilizes Office 365 to assign Minecraft accounts to students – making it a cost effective way for schools to access the game, and in a way that provides a safe, closed environment in which to play. After getting Minecraft: Education Edition via Office 365 for your school, and exploring the lessons on the Minecraft website, the next step is to get other teachers in your school to start using Minecraft. Dominique suggests: “You could get Computers 4 Kids to run Minecraft training sessions to help get your teachers excited about using Minecraft. The Computers 4 Kids Minecraft lessons are also a great place to get started, giving your teachers ideas which are already linked to the CAPs curriculum."

Stephen Reid and the Microsoft ‘Team’ at the Cape Town launch
of Minecraft Education Edition.

Can Minecraft be used in conjunction with other Microsoft Apps?
Minecraft works well with some of the other Microsoft Apps. Dominique says, “I’m loving Office Mix as a way for students to record their Minecraft: Education Edition game  play and turn it into the basis for a project. Similarly, students could make a Sway about a topic and include a video of themselves moving around in a Minecraft world, or a series of stills to which they have added speech bubbles to create a comic book effect.”

A coding connection introduced in Minecraft
After her extensive background in teaching at International schools in many countries Dominique says: "I think that in South Africa we are lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of technology in our curriculum. We have no requirement to teach students about computer technology and computer science. In the UK National Curriculum, Computing is compulsory and all students now leave school with at least a basic idea of how computers work and the basics of computational thinking. This is something I would like to see us really pushing in South Africa."  Using Minecraft can start closing that gap in coding knowledge. Minecraft: Education Edition now includes Coding Connection which links up Minecraft to Scratch (which is an online beginning programming platform). Students can write code in Scratch which will cause their ‘Agent’ in Minecraft to execute the statements. "This is going to be my favourite thing to do in Minecraft!"says Dominique.


What next?
Think about entering into the world of your learners and introducing Minecraft: Education Edition into their space at school. In South Africa the best way to get Minecraft: Education Edition for your class is for your school to sign up by registering for Office 365 for Education  (which is free) and then buying Minecraft: Education Edition from a Microsoft Authorised Education Partners (AEP). These are current partners who can assist you:

Partner Name
Contact Person
 Email
Computers 4 Kids
Russell Pengelly
Scadco
Mitchell Struwig
ITech Solutions
Daryl Duncan
Onsite IT
Clayton Campbell
Masterskill
Roelof de Bruyn
GACS
Brian Carl Brown
Dial a Nerd
Warren Morton

Technical requirements for Minecraft: Education Edition:
Operating System: Windows 10 or macOS
Identity: Office 365 Education account for each player. This is free for schools and your Authorised Education Partner can assist you getting this set up.
Network: Internet access required for login and multiplayer

Further reading:

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