If you aren’t aware, Esports is now the second most popular sport in the US, after the NFL. IN terms of participants, it is also second to only football when it comes to high school sports. We are not here to debate “whether playing video games can really be called a sport”. We’re way past that now. No, we’re here to see how Minecraft Education Edition contributes to the movement, particularly in schools. Welcome (at last) to Day 125 of 365 Ideas for Microsoft 365.

 

Starting Esports with Minecraft

My own large school district (over 80,000 students) has struggled to get an actual Esports program up and running. We tend to be on the really restrictive end of permissions, which includes what devices can be on the school network, so we have that in addition to the usual cost considerations and myriad decisions about platforms and games.

Screenshot of the Esports collection of worlds in the Subject Kits within the in game library of Minecraft Education Edition

If you are in a similar situation, Minecraft makes a great place to start. If your students have Office 365 (and why wouldn’t they?) most likely you already have the licenses available as part of the package. There’s now also a Camps and Clubs version of Minecraft:EE for non-schools, including libraries and homeschoolers, to use M:EE. 

That means no additional hardware to purchase, and no additional devices on your network. M:EE runs on Windows, Chromebooks, Macs and iPads. They all work with the same Office 365 login.

 

Make & Model

The first M:EE worlds to officially venture into Esports were the Make & Model worlds. Within the in game library, under Subject Kits, besides the expected Math and Science, you’ll also find Esports. There’s currently four categories there, one of which is Make & Model.

Screenshot of the Esports Make & Model collection of worlds in the Subject Kits within the in game library of Minecraft Education Edition

These are gorgeous worlds. The first thing I did when opening a new one is just fly around and soak in the details. The first thing I do now when I introduce these worlds to new users is encourage them to do the same.

Each had a theme, but the structure is pretty standard among them. There’s worlds featuring pirates, bees, inside 3D printers or computers, and planets and libraries. There’s currently nine worlds for competition and two for practicing. But they all function the same way. Players stand on one of two areas, denoted by color- green or yellow. When the host (teacher or coach) starts the game, everyone standing on the yellow surface gets teleported to one build area and everyone standing on the green surface is teleported to the other build area. To prevent griefing (messing with the other team)  members of one time cannot physically enter the build area of the other team. They are teleported away when they try.

Scoring

There’s a giant clock and scoreboard, and when time runs out, players from both teams can move to an area where they vote for the winner of the best design by standing on the green or yellow area. Spectators can vote as well. This would be anyone who joined the world but was not standing on a color when the game launched. Variations on scoring could include having a rubric to guide scoring and the host/moderator acting as a judge, placing armor stands as votes according to performance on the rubric.

 

The Esports worlds in M:EE come with a OneNote Notebook on using any of these worlds with students, including how to run competitions and goals to focus on in the entire process.

These Make & Model worlds allow for a nice variety of settings, without having to re-learn how to play, or, in the case of coaches, how to run the game. If there was (previously) any weakness to the portfolio, it was that they were essentially all the same game, despite the fact that there is literally an infinite number of things that could be built and how teams could go about building them.

However, there are now other formats in the Esports library as well.

 

Code 2 Create

Another category for sure, but if you just look inside this category at the list of offerings, you might not be so sure. Busy? Gold Rush?Splat Racers? Lost Library? We’ve seen this all before! Yes, the same settings as the Make & Model series, but in these worlds, the teams must use code to get the Agent to build for them, instead of traditional Minecraft building. This changes everything, and nothing! An entirely new set of skills is required on top of the skills required in the corresponding worlds. All the same planning, collaboration and communication (arguably more) and now layer coding skills on top! Further scaffolding of skills allows block-based, JavaScript or Python coding. (Ooh, consider having different age levels compete, and younger students can use block-based while older students have to use JavaScript!)

Screenshot of the Esports Code 2 Create collection of worlds in the Subject Kits within the in game library of Minecraft Education Edition

Creative Clash

And now for something completely different. Still taking advantage of familiar themes, there are currently two worlds in the Creative Clash collection, one set in a bee hive, and the other featuring pirates. In Busy Bees tow teams go head to head in a race to fly to flowers, collect nectar and return to the hive to deposit the nectar. But don’t deposit it all- you’ll need some for yourself to fly! In this world, bees from both teams are flying around together, so there is a level of interaction, meaning part of your team’s strategy may involve disrupting the work of the other team.

The other world is called Speed Run, because your team’s goal is to collect buried treasure as fast as possible, but teams can compete asynchronously. They can both play at the same time, but they will be in separate worlds. This has some definite unique possibilities like teams competing from different Microsoft domains.

Both Creative Clash worlds change the whole M:EE Esports experience from “best build” to more traditional video gaming formats.

Screenshot of the Esports Creative Clash collection of worlds in the Subject Kits within the in game library of Minecraft Education Edition

Challenge Series

This last series can be used in conjunction with any of the others. These worlds are a series of Skills Challenges. But the skills aren’t exclusively Minecraft abilities. The skills include planning, communication, collaboration, 3-d spatial design, and all things teamwork. These are a place to practice planning out builds and delegating roles and trying out new jobs and techniques.

After all, these are the things that Scholastic Esports exist for. Harnessing the motivation of compelling activity to learn real-life soft skills and, in the case of Code 2 Create, hard skills as well!

Screenshot of the Esports Challenge Seriescollection of worlds in the Subject Kits within the in game library of Minecraft Education Edition

Resources

While the basics of getting an Esports program up and running are beyond the scope of this article, there are plenty of resources out there to help with that. From deciding on games, acquiring, setting up, connecting and maintaining hardware and software, to recruiting students and staff, to establishing teams and competitions, many others have already walked that path and offer their guidance.

 

Check out these resources from NASEF (North American Scholastic Esports Federation)

Home – NASEF | Free High School Esports Clubs

Get Started – NASEF | Free High School Esports Clubs

 

There’s even resources for using Esports within your curriculum

Curriculum – NASEF | Free High School Esports Clubs

 

For specifically using Minecraft Education Edition in Esports, Microsoft has some great resources as well.

STEM Esports Challenges | Minecraft Education Edition

There are even courses on the Microsoft Educator Community (MEC)

Esports: More than just a game – Microsoft Educator Center

And don’t forget Twitter! Follow

@susietinker5

@StephenReidEdu

@PhygitalLabs

@dadxeight (That’s just me!)

And of course @PlaycraftLearn and @NASEFedu

Looking for more? How about the Remote Learning with Microsoft Teams Course Sign up to learn how to go from a complete novice in Teams to using Teams for your complete solution for remote learning.  

Remote Learning with Microsoft Teams Course


If you like this style of directions and screenshots, walking you through ideas for using Microsoft tools in your classroom, check out my new (2nd Edition) book,

All the Microsoft Tools You Need to Transform Your Classroom: 75 Ideas for using Microsoft Office 365 for Education available on amazon in both Kindle and paperback.

Ever wonder where the books, blogs and speakers are for Microsoft 
Education? Whether you work in a Microsoft Office Education district, a 
hybrid Microsoft-Google district, or are just curious, this book is all about the 
possibilities. If you've only just been exposed to Google Education's 
Matthew Nickerson 
worked in Special 
Education for over 
20 years and now is 
an Instmctional 
Technology 
Specialist in 
MCPS, in 
Maryland, and a 
Learning Consultant 
with i2e, a Microsoft 
MIE Expert and 
Master Trainer. 
MIE 
EXPERT 
offerings, you're in for a genuine surprise. 
Microsoft Office and Microsoft Office 365 have a dazzling 
array of tools to empower you to transform education in your 
classroom, school or district, leading the way in accessibility in 
educational technology. Learn new ways to use old standards 
like Word, PowerPoint and OneDrive and discover entirely 
new tools like Sway, Stream, OneNote Class Notebook and 
bring your paperless classroom all together with Microsoft 
Teams. 
Over 100 full color images accompany the text to open your 
imagination to the possiblities. 
Discover and harness everything that Microsoft has to offer 
teachers and students to transform your classroom. 
ISBN 9781698183053 
9 781698 183053 
All the Microsoft Tools 
You Need To Transform 
Your Classroom 
75 Ideas for Using Microsoft Office 365 for Education 
I I I I I I I I I ill 
Microsoft 
Innovative 
Educator Expert 
Matthew Nickerson 
Foreward by Mike Tholfsen
Front and back cover of the book, All the Microsoft Tools You Need to Transform your Classroom

Leave a Reply