Self Access Learning and Minecraft: Student Perceptions
Minecraft is an interactive virtual sandbox that came out in 2011. Despite its age, its popularity has continued to rise. The authors have created a Minecraft server for their students at a private Japanese university. This university puts great effort into its English Self Access Center (SALC), offering a variety of options for students to practice their English and focus on their skills or learning goals. In an effort to expand the offerings of this SALC, the two authors introduced a Minecraft server with an “English Please” mentality, not forcing any language usage but encouraging English usage when students felt comfortable to do so. During this phase of the project, the authors focused on the student perceptions of Minecraft after introducing a persistent survival mode option as well as a creative mode option to coincide with other themed events such as Halloween and Christmas. Initially, 130 students surveyed indicated an interest in participating in a Minecraft server set up and run by the SALC. Of those students, 28 joined a discussion forum (Microsoft Teams), and roughly 20 have logged into the server at least one time during the three months of the first phase. At the completion of phase one, the authors surveyed the students electronically for their impressions of the server. Questions centered around the reasons for joining or not joining the server after stating interest in the initial survey, ways to improve the experience, and gaining an understanding of student expectations for the Minecraft server community. These insights from the surveys in addition to the interactions and observations of the authors have led to changes in how they will implement Phase 2.