While I am probably the last guy to be a Luddite when it comes to kids on computers, even I am a bit leery when it comes to the addictive nature of Minecraft. More than 36 million users have registered to play in the two years since it was first released. According to my own in-house student focus group—ages 12, nine, and eight—this software phenomenon from Sweden is way bigger than Angry Birds.
For the first time, our 30 minute per day per kid computer time quota has been put to the test with repeated pleas for “Ten more minutes!” But there’s another big difference from what I would hear with kids playing Angry Birds. Instead of “Check out my new high score,” I hear “Check out what I made!” Instead of the twitchy destruction of Bad Piggy forts, they create worlds with towers and castles and a really cool working roller coaster, which I rode for at least an extra ten minutes.
That distinction is the crux of our cover story this month (Meet The Makers). Tech & Learning advisors Gary Carnow and Sylvia Martinez discuss the book Invent To Learn, which Martinez co-authored with edtech guru Gary Stager. It’s an illuminating exchange about student creation versus consumption and how the Maker Movement could have an incredibly positive effect on the way we teach in schools. If this is the first you have heard of the Maker Movement, I assure you it won’t be the last. Expect continuing coverage. My prediction: You will have a school Fab Lab in three years if all goes right!
— Kevin Hogan