Replied to Remote Learning Lessons – Reflections From a Parent by Aaron Davis
Although so many of the structures were carried online, one that was absent was a deliberate social space encapsulated in the yard. A part of me understands why. Some may abuse such an opportunity. There is no means of putting in place clear habits and policies before moving online. Also, it would become another thing for teachers to manage. Maybe such a space is the responsibility of home, I still think that this social side is one of the limitations to moving online, a place for play and experimentation.

Hi Aaron,

This is fascinating, there was a lot of opacity between me and my class, this opens it up a bit. Your daughter’s school sounds a lot more organised in a daily fashion than my class.

I ended up setting up a  Minecraft edu server at home for the pupils to access. This turned into a social space as I set no real guidance, problem or focus. I thought of this as a playground. It certainly fits the description  a place for play and experimentation.

screenshot of Team's Chat

Some notes, part of a ragged collection on my lockdown learning.

I had a wee lightbulb moment this week. I’ve been running daily Teams meetings with my class and having a lot of problems with pupils not seeing the content of slides presented. My way of handling these meetings has been to use a PowerPoint slide deck to step through what I want to discuss and teach. It gives me some structure, allows be a board and to explain some thing visibly.
It has lead to a lot of pupils telling me a they can’t see the slides.

I had planned to do a bit of flipping so this week I used the day’s slides as the basis for a screencast or two each day. These were posted first thing in the morning so pupils could watch before the meeting at 2. Then if the slides failed I’d just continue and hope the pupils memories helped untested what I was saying. This didn’t work all that well. Not all the pupil read the morning post or watched the video. The videos were all short, 2 or 3.

The other problem is that pupils don’t all turn up every day, so if you try to teach a series of lessons it gets complicated. This is further complicated by having a multi-composite with a wide range of maturities and levels. For those that do come every day I imagine the repetition gets a bit tedious.

💡On Friday I abandoned the slides. Not sure why I didn’t think of this before, caught in the headlights? Instead I had a text file of notes and in a folder a few images and a video. These were uploaded into the chat at the appropriate time. The video was only a minute or so long and very small. I can also copy and paste text to the chat.
This worked a good deal better, the pupils could all see the content, reply with text and their own images while we talked. I’d been using the chat to collect writing in previous meets but this was a lot better.
An easy way to export the chat would be useful.

We did have problems with some pupils getting dropped and a few who lost the ability to talk. Most solved by quitting the meeting and app and starting again.

So my plan is to do just this for meetings in the future. Not sure how much I’ll be doing going forward as we go back into school next week to start organising for the new year. That will cut down on time for meetings and preparation for those meetings.

I am hoping getting rid of the PP will save me a bit of time too. Making ‘good enough’ explanatory videos doesn’t take very long. I either record talking over a few keynote slides or the screen of a whiteboard on an iPad. Try for one take, little editing. I then run them through handbrake to reduce the file size.

Things that have worked best for me, or I think are worth testing more:

  • Short sections, a wee bit maths, literacy, chat, quiz. I’ve not tried anything else.
  • Giving time to pupils to do a few minutes writing, calculating or drawing in meeting. I play a wee bit of music during these intervals.
  • Upload short videos or images to support discussion.

On the Minecraft front, I’ve had the server up and running for an hour every day, usually only 3-5 pupils this wee. Interestingly one who never comes to meeting, so proving useful in a small way. The Virtual Banton continues to expand. Now seems to have a railway in the sky and a zoo. I don’t spend much time there, occasionally popping in for a chat to to get some sort of idea on what is happening. I do listen to the talk though

Some notes, part of a ragged collection on lockdown learning.

Teaching via blogs, teams and meets it a bit like throwing mud at the wall and seeing what sticks. I am not getting the same bunch turning up everyday. This makes planning a series of lessons difficult. Or continuing something.

My team meetings consist of some of the following:
– A bit of chat, perhaps “round the room” sharing news although if that happens every day most folk dry up after 2 or 3
– A few maths questions, pupIls note down answers and then we review and discuss.
– “Number talks”
– Tables bingo
– Every week we take a poem: read it on the first day; discuss words the next; Poetic techniques the next and do a bit of writing the next two. 10 minutes a day.
– A general knowledge quiz
– Discussions of some of the tasks on the weekly blog post.

I try to keep it moving along, light and happy.

We tried 5 minutes drawing with soft music one day this week, it seemed to go down well. I’ve done the same with writing. On paper then pasted into the chat. Again using poetry keeping it short.

Of course this is interrupted by pupils dropping out, trying to get back in! Mics not working, audio dropping etc.

I also run a Minecraft Education Server for an hour or so everyday. I mostly step back. Stick on the text to speech and try and get some prep done. Not particularly successfully. Every so often I wander about amazed at what is being done. It is a pretty open ended task, a Virtual Banton. It seems to develop in fits and starts. It drops away then an idea picks up. Fascinating to watch. I’ve never had more than 7 pupils in at once.

Today I was completely surprised, two of the class wanted to ‘give’ me the school uniform. It seems in Minecraft there are ways to pass on these thing. Some instructions in chat followed, but they were to complicated for me. One pupil then decided to make a video. And drop it in teams. 2 minutes later job done. I’ve got my uniform on.

Text of a pupil  blog post today, “I know I’m like two weeks late with this work but here it is.”

A few more details on how I got Minecraft education running as a “server” on my Mac. More a note to self than anything else.

I am pretty much a complete novice when it comes to Minecraft, I’ve never managed to get up much enthusiasm for computer games of any sort. I have used Minetest and Minecraft Edu in my class a few times and it is certainly an engaging environment for many of my pupils 1.

Given that Microsoft extends access to Minecraft: Education Edition and resources to support remote learning and it works with Glow accounts it seemed worth a punt to set up a server. I had suggested some tasks for individual use, but didn’t seem much sign of action.

So this is what I did:

I updated to the latest version of Minecraft education edition.

I read some documentation, I found some of this a little confusing mostly because I followed a link to help with Port Forwarding. Mentions of X-Box and different ports to open confused me. It seemed to be selling some software to help. Turned outto be a lot simpler.

Back at the bottom of How To Set Up A Multiplayer Game – Minecraft: Education Edition Support was all I needed.

You also may need to forward port 19132 on your router. Forwarding ports is useful because it can help to make your network connection more stable and sometimes even faster.

  • Forward Port 19132 TCP AND UDP.

What I had to do was to add a Firewall rule to my router to open these ports. I’ve got a BT hub so I logged on through the web interface, found the Firewall setting and added this. I have done this before for Raspberry Pi reasons. I guess different routers have different interfaces.

On testing with some of my class half a dozen tried to get in, and one failed. The others sometimes took a while to get connected but seemed to be fine once they started. It is hard to figure out why one failed when you can’t see what is going on, it could be a typo on the email address!

I don’t intend to do too much to start with, open a World Up and set an open ended task of some sort (design and make me a Minecraft classroom perhaps). I’ll see how it goes. I am finding just preparing for one hour of conferencing teaching it taking up a lot of time.

I’ve also not much idea about the security issues around this. I wonder too if it will handle more than a few pupils, we certainly had trouble in school with multi-play with more than a few pupils in one World.

1. I found that some of the activities were fun and helped with learning, but it took a lot of classroom time which seems hard to justify given I struggle to fit things in, might be an advantage now.

I managed to get #minecraftedu running from home and a few pupils in from remote locations using their #glowscot accounts. Hope to set up some home learning/playing next week. I am really rubbish at even walking in minecraft, so will be observing rather than building;-)

Read Known issues with Minecraft: Education Edition (Minecraft: Education Edition Support)
While we hope that no bugs slip through into the products we ship, we are a team of humans and inevitably we won’t be able to catch all issues. Here is a list of what we know is out there: Current ...

Unable to open .mcworld files on iOS 1.13

  • Versions Impacted: iPad
  • Workaround: None at this time
  • Status: This is a known issue set to be fixed our patch release est. Jan 29.

from: Known issues with Minecraft: Education Edition – Minecraft: Education Edition Support

I was glad to read this, because I was sure it had worked before.

From my Pinboard

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