Although Bond University was officially closed for several unprecedented days this week due to flooding and storm damage from Tropical Cyclone Oswald, students in Bond’s Faculty of Engineering and IT, computer gaming program weren’t hung out to dry.
The computer gaming students at Bond University held a “Mineclass”on Tuesday – a virtual class using Minecraft. Professor Jeffrey Brand blogged about the experience later, saying that students logged in at 10 a.m. that day, and he was able to review his slides, ask questions about the readings and even handed out rewards for participation.
The virtual class session was made possible through previous preparation and building, initiated by Brand and his sons. The online learning environment effectively simulates Bond University and the lab models the actual classroom for the program. The lesson reportedly went smoothly, using a combination of the Minecraft IM chat function and Brand’s slides. Of course, the class was not without some funny moments, he blogged, when Brand noticed that some virtual students were brandishing TNT. Just shy of two hours later, the computer gaming class had completed the lesson, wrapped up and “ran” outside of the simulated Bond University building to set off fireworks, Brand’s blog notes.
The MinecraftUni Project has been taking shape at Bond University since the beginning of January, involving 11 gaming and IT students, studying interactive media, communications, law and business. Some media reports are saying that Brand launched the project after reading about the game being used for educational purposes and part of the United Nation’s Block by Block program. After an introduction to the project, his students worked for weeks to design the entire university in the game. This week provided the perfect opportunity for a pilot of the university’s virtual environment.