Coding with Minecraft Curriculum: Trials and tribulations

I am excited about testing this curriculum with a class of 5th graders starting in a couple of weeks.  Maybe I am too excited considering I am handing it off to the middle school tech teacher to implement. She is willing and interested also so I do not feel bad.  I have been working through the teacher setup document “My Minecraft Journey”. Be forewarned, the version available on the internet is pretty buggy. There is a more recent version available directly from the Minecraft education folks.   I have not even gotten to the curriculum other than a cursory look.

As the school IT guy I have the job of setting up the required Office 365 accounts.  We are a Google school so this is my introduction to Office 365 management. After this experience I am very, very glad we are a Google school.  Our 5th graders do not have school email accounts and we do not want them to have any yet so I figured to build some generic accounts for the Minecraft login.  First I have to build 24 gmail accounts so the school email addresses exist. I find the “how to” on building bulk accounts for gmail. Build a spreadsheet with first, last, email address, password, convert to csv, import into manager and, poof, I am done in 10 minutes with gmail.  I find the “how to” on bulk Office 365 accounts. Build spreadsheet with username and email address, convert to csv and import. Wait, what about the password? Send an email to the new user so they can change their password. There are no users in this case. So I end up having to go into every account through the manger and enter the password.  PITA. If there were 50 kids I would have to seriously reconsider the MInecraft curriculum. 500 kids? No way. This seems to be a major glitch with the deployment of this curriculum. Maybe there is a better way to build Office 365 accounts with a password but I could not find it.

In Montana many schools do not have an IT department.  They are like us, a teacher that can figure things out so he/she is the part-time IT guy/gal.  A classroom teacher would be the person building user accounts in Office 365. Usually a teacher who is not a computer geek but was teaching business or typing last year.  So something that is not related to the actual curriculum could make the curriculum a dead pigeon.

It is interesting how many times I encounter things like this.  Great tools for teaching that require massive setup requirement or setup that is just a pain and therefore not worth the trouble.  If I did not have 30+ years of dealing with computers, networks and whatever there are several instances where I would have abandoned the curriculum path I wanted to go down.  It seems that some of the folks that design this “stuff” do not consider who may be trying to get their great idea to work. A 50+ year old typing teacher trying to redirect her career  and is offered the programming class because in Montana business teachers are the only teachers automatically certified to teach CS. (True story.)

I am still on with this Coding with Minecraft curriculum but even before starting to look at the curriculum there are major issues that will kill it in some schools.  The solution? A detailed document on how to build generic Office 365 accounts that a non-computer teacher can understand. Most teachers have no problem learning a new curriculum, it is in their skill set.  Building Office 365 accounts probably is not.

3 Responses to “Coding with Minecraft Curriculum: Trials and tribulations”

  1. bobirving13 Says:

    You’re right. Making those accounts could be a LOT easier. I teach middle school CS and have had to navigate this process. Glad to offer any help I can!

  2. gflint Says:

    Are you using the Coding with Minecraft curriculum?

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