To: NEF STEM+ Academy Directors
From: Dr. Anthony Betrus, Professor at SUNY Potsdam & National Director of STEM+ Academies
NEF STEM+ Academy Directors,
Thank you for your interest in the NEF Minecraft Initiative. Minecraft is a great tool to both teach and motivate your students. It has cross-gender appeal, and the digital literacy skills it engenders are foundational to student success. As such, we strongly encourage you to consider using Minecraft in your school, both as a teaching and learning tool, and as a motivational tool.
The rules and policies you have for how students interact on your server are your own. We encourage you to work with your students to come up with a code of conduct for interacting in the world, and treat it as a privilege. Digital Citizenship is an important skill for your students to learn, one that can be helped along by their interactions in the Minecraft world. Once students gain access, you can decide if you want to limit their access to in-school or both in-school and out-of-school. Again, this is up to you and your students.
We encourage you to take a look at the resources, links, and testimonials at http://MinecraftEDU.com, to give you a better idea of how teachers are using the software. In general, we encourage you not to over prescribe what the students do, but use it for what is does best, and that is provide an open-ended building environments where students can explore and create. We do encourage you to have students reflect and document what they do, and we even have a contest to encourage students to document their STEM journeys.