Minecraft and the Digital Divide

Lindsey Matter By Lindsey Matter, 13th Dec 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Kids

Can the video game Minecraft be the thing that helps close the digital divide between children from low and high socio-economic backgrounds.

The Digital Divide

The digital divide is the learning separation between children from high and low socio-economic backgrounds, with the children from lower socio-economics performing worse when tested than children from higher socio-economic backgrounds. To put it simply, children from poor backgrounds do not do as well in school as children from wealthier backgrounds.

Various things have been attempted to fix this learning gap, such as introducing calculators to the classroom in the 1970’s, the introduction of computers in the classroom in the 1990’s, and recently the introduction of iPads into classrooms. However all these things have one thing in common, they didn’t work.

The Power of Minecraft

So the question now, is whether or not there is anything that can separate the divide, and Minecraft, with its fun, accessible, and inclusive gameplay, may be just the ticket.

Jenny Vorlicky, a psychology student and avid gamer with extensive experience with children believes that accessibility is the main reason why Minecraft would be great as an educational tool. “Minecraft is across so many different platforms, from PC, to mobile, to game consoles. It’s familiar to them all.”

“When I work with children, you can say the word ‘Minecraft’ and they all knew what you were talking about.” Vorlicky said.

Minecraft has many qualities that can be used for teaching. One of its largest is its scientific aspects. With things like like functioning ecology, as well as physics and chemistry aspects interwoven within the game, Minecraft can be used to develop scientific understanding for children of all ages. This can be done through MinecraftEdu, a team of collaborators that work with Mojang to “bring the sandbox experience to the classroom” said Eli Levy, the partnerships manager of MCProHosting, the largest server hosting company for Minecraft servers. Eli has worked with countless teachers and the facilitators of MinecraftEdu to get servers up and running for various classes all over the United States.

Can It Be Done

While Minecraft offers new opportunities for learning, there is the question of the digital divide and if socio-economic background will have an impact on the learning ability of students. The introduction of calculators was thought to be the solution to the digital divide between the wealthy and the poor back in the 1970’s, however research indicated that that was not the case. Further research into computer usage has indicated that wealthy students will use the computer to get ahead, while poor students use it mindlessly. This is seen as a reflection of the lack of knowledge on how of how to ‘properly’ use technology, which stems from the effects of living in an area with a low socio-economic background.

These examples show that the introduction of new technology does not result in better learning and knowledge growth for students, and that this is mainly because of the difference in their socio-economic background. So the question remains whether or not the video game Minecraft will fall into the same category as computers and calculators, used mindlessly or as a way to avoid actually learning the material.

In an ever changing and ever advancing world, we must learn to change and adapt with it for the betterment of humanity. Exploring the potential of Minecraft as a teaching tool is one of many things that must be done in order to further the learning for the new generation, because the old ways aren’t working anymore, and the divide is growing ever larger with each passing day.


Digital Divide, Games, Kids, Minecraft

Meet the author

author avatar Lindsey Matter
I'm an English/Communication Studies double major with a business minor and I'm just giving writing a try on here after writing some for school magazines.

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