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Building real world solutions in Minecraft

- Wits University

Students in the School of Therapeutic Sciences and the School of Education at Wits competed to build a world in online game, Minecraft.

Competitors had to create a world in Minecraft Education edition that depicted their field. See competition and prize giving photos here.

Minecraft is a “sandbox” game, which refers to a video system with defined rules that the players can interact with but with which they have complete freedom to create unique online worlds.

“Wits University is the first and currently the only higher education institution in South Africa actively using MineCraft Education Edition for teaching and learning. While there is a nursing programme in Singapore using MineCraft Education Edition, we believe we are the only other health sciences environment worldwide using MineCraft for education purposes,” says Dr Paula Barnard-Ashton, eFundanathi manager.

Wits was the only higher education institution to participate in Microsoft’s worldwide MineCraft May Challenge. Three Wits staff teams – WitsBITS, Tshimologong, and eFundnathi – and 15 individual Wits students competed in the #MineCraftEEMay Challenge on 29 May 2019, which took place in the eFundanathi eZone on Wits Education Campus.

Education student Yadir Purmasir won first prize in the Individual Challenge. His world, “The Order of the Stone Academy” was a school that teaches students in various subjects for them to excel in the world of Minecraft. Click here for a Microsoft Sway of Purmasir’s winning entry.

Scenes from world created by #Minecraft Education Edition challenge winner, Yadir Purmasir, an Education student whose world depicted a school that teaches students in various subjects

Nursing Education postgraduate, Zelda Laurie took second place for her creation of the world of a stomach. This anatomical game requires players to build a stomach and then stomach and respond to challenges such as ulcers, inflammation. Click here for a Microsoft Sway of Laurie’s Minecraft for Anatomy entry.

Education student, Brogan Fiddes placed third for his School of Minecraft. Fiddes aimed to create a school that had a small carbon footprint, while still being appealing to all who enter. The School of Minecraft combines traditional real world schooling with schooling specifically for the Minecraft players. Click here for a Microsoft Sway of Fiddes’ Minecraft for Education.

Mathematics and Computer Science student Nqobile Mhlanga won the Audience Vote for creating a maze as a mathematical challenge. Pharmacy student Previn Ramiah in the Wits Advanced Drug Delivery Platform (WADDP) won the Social Media Challenge for his adaptation of a chemistry lab, which linked concepts and chemical reactions in a virtual world cost-effectively and with decreased environmental impact.  

Nursing Education lecturer Lizelle Crous, MasterSkill representative Roelof De Bruyn, and Xoliswa Mahlangu of Future Nations School were judges. Microsoft SA donated an Xbox to eFundanathi, which awarded it as the first-place prize. Acer sponsored an i5 laptop for second-place prize and Masterskill sponsored a number of R1000 vouchers for the Microsoft Technical Associate Exams. Glenda Miles and Samantha Morris from Microsoft attended the prize giving, as did Lindani Mngomezulu from Acer, and Roelof De Bruyn from Masterskill.

Wits will continue to leverage creative technologies to advance blended teaching and learning. “We are using Mineraft Education Edition in the Master’s in Nursing Education programme and building a scenario world for second-year undergraduate students in Occupational Therapy to understand ‘fetching water’ in rural South Africa as an occupational performance action,” says Barnard-Ashton