UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Digital games-based learning : Minecraft in the 21st century classroom Partridge, Julie


This critical literature review examines how sandbox video games like Minecraft can develop 21st century skills, in particular the 4Cs — critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity — in school aged students within the formal setting of the classroom. This research includes two primary questions: (1) What aspects of sandbox video games like Minecraft promote the practice and development of twenty-first century skills in school age children? and (2) How to “bridge the gap” between informal, out-of-class learning and the formal classroom setting? The extant body of scholarship in each of these two focus areas is synthesized and themes that emerge from the data to include: the qualities of Minecraft that promote 21C skills –critical thinking, communication and collaboration creativity; and ways to bridge the gap include student-centered learning and teacher curiosity and interest. Violence and gender bias in video games, student and parental perspectives and barriers and issues with technology in classrooms are also discussed. The theoretical underpinnings for this research include Constructivism (Dewey, 1938; James & Williams, 2017), Constructionism (Papert, 1980) and Connectivism (Siemens, 2004; Downes, 2005). The findings of this critical literature review indicate that Minecraft can help to develop the 4Cs and teachers, when curious and motivated, can overcome barriers to incorporating Minecraft into their classrooms. The implications and significance of this research has relevance for district administrators, school leadership teams and classroom teachers wanting to include technology, Digital Games-Based Learning (DGBL) and Minecraft into their schools and classrooms whilst providing those hesitant a better understanding of the importance in this area of pedagogy.

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