Minetest Could Be An Educational Tool

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by Novacain » Fri Feb 28, 2014 00:20

Well, they certainly don't tell how minecraft can be educational. I think what we need is a way to get the word out about minetest, and to make our own edu version. and a website. have a line in it of: how is minetestedu better than minecraftedu. or why is mintest better for teaching than minecraft.

I think that this would also work better as an elective. you can guarantee kids are going to want to do it.
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by Novacain » Fri Feb 28, 2014 00:23

Evergreen wrote:
Novacain wrote:
twoelk wrote:I am a little irritated by comments... -snip-

I would think they would have pointed out that kind of stuff on there website. but I still don't see how mineCraft (aka, mobs and such) is educational. I can understand how minetest can be. it has an easily moddable interface, and plenty of mods that can provide learning experiences (building a technic reactor for one). But at the same time, I feel that this would work better as an after school special. if a school is going to use it, then minetest is by far better than minecraft.

I agree. I think Gambit said "Minetest is science, Minecraft is magic." I think that is completely true, to have fun in minetest, it takes more than just screwing around in creative mode. That would get boring very quickly in Minetest.


I knew as soon as I deleted my old post (I was enlightened by google :P) that someone was going to comment on there. and here's a novel idea: legos in the classroom. if we have a minecraft/test class, I think we can use legos. they can teach you a lot about structural stability, as well as creating good patterns, and improvising to create a "piece" out of multiple peices, because you can't find the right piece, or it is already used.
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by maier.nathan » Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:54

I definitely intended my post to be about using minetest in a broader setting. I feel like we need to organize a plan to approach teachers and parents with in order to convey the possibilities you all know are here. By "here," I meant the whole community. I might work on an example letter to educators and parents.

For the farming mod, I was thinking of tweaking the accurateness of plants, like adding variables that enhance crop rotation and time to fruit. Also some of the look of the plants, adding more plants.

By mentioning "my" kids, I thought that I could use them to shed light on what kids want. Also, I am going to contact a speaker from the SouthEast Linux fest who spoke about GNU/free sofware in schools. +++++ I'll be in touch.
-Nate
Last edited by maier.nathan on Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:55, edited 1 time in total.
 

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by Novacain » Fri Feb 28, 2014 17:28

I say, target schools who are looking at minecraft. if we can show them minetest, with it having the same educational capabilities and being free, it should be an easy win.
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by hoodedice » Fri Feb 28, 2014 20:11

maier.nathan wrote:I definitely intended my post to be about using minetest in a broader setting. I feel like we need to organize a plan to approach teachers and parents with in order to convey the possibilities you all know are here. By "here," I meant the whole community. I might work on an example letter to educators and parents.

For the farming mod, I was thinking of tweaking the accurateness of plants, like adding variables that enhance crop rotation and time to fruit. Also some of the look of the plants, adding more plants.

By mentioning "my" kids, I thought that I could use them to shed light on what kids want. Also, I am going to contact a speaker from the SouthEast Linux fest who spoke about GNU/free sofware in schools. +++++ I'll be in touch.
-Nate


Now that is going at the level that I was looking for!

Thank you, and best of luck Nate. If I'm not busy with other things, I'll try to help you out with this =)
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by maier.nathan » Mon Mar 10, 2014 01:06

Okay, here's a sample letter I wrote to educators. GPL license or similar for it I guess.

"Minetest Because...";
A letter to educators.

What is Minetest?
Minetest, Minecraft and Infiniminer are incredibly fun and exciting games that help kids have a great time learning about more practical topics in a situation that does not involve violence or sexuality. Did I say it's imaginative? The concept is similar to building blocks (like legos), where you can create houses, farms, cities, tools and many other incredibly creative things. For example, metal ore is mined, crafted into ingots, used to craft different metal tools like pickaxes or other objects and then used to build a building.

You are building your own tools and creations, houses, or any other structure you can imagine. Unlike many other creative projects, then you are able to move around in it and experience your new world. For example, you can build and use a ladder. You can craft glass blocks from sand. Use them for windows and watch the square sun rise from your porch, or whatever you want. the term being use is "sandbox game."

It is in practice like art class. Of course, you don't have the advantages of working with materials and playbuilding with clay to sculpt or oil to paint with. It is still a creative activity. It is crucial to balance things like computer work with other exercise, art projects, social time, or music etc.... "Sandbox games," put creativity in an all-inclusive, physical world setting, albeit a simulation. This simulation offers an "infinite world," where any aspect of reality can be worked with and mimicked or learned.

Collaboration is also a possiblity of the game. I would say that in an educational setting this aspect can be an incredibly postitive aspect. A school is a great supervised place to start learning how to participate in collaborative processes. That skill can then be applied into a more mature setting. Just like in legoland, you can interact and build with other players. As long as your games are connected, you have many opportunities to build with classmates with your avatars both in the game at the same time In a school, only people approved to use the server will be playing. Computer servers, at places such as a school, can host games that are ensured to be set up well for their students and monitored or automated for a safe, enriching environment.

More about the lessons:
The craft making and other, "laws," of Minetest are a play versions of laws of the world. These principles can be explored without being too cautious about what really will or won't work. You can build something 800 feet high with no sound architectual principles, but you can build an estimate of reality and be proud of it. Of course you can explore any level or context of realistic building, farming, or hunting you want.

With what you create in these types of games, you can work with narratives. You can watch a city build through independent or collaborative efforts. I've set up what could be called a modest "country," home with a rooftop garden and a funky floor plan with vines to climb on to get to the roof. In the meantime, huge buildings are popping up on the server around me. I build a road to my house and someone "griefs," me and burns everything down. Not a happier moment, but I can deal with it. That's something you have to expect in any environment like this. But I go about having fun rebuilding, making it out of stone and glass this time instead of wood.

As you go, you have to manage resources. How much stone do I have? How many trees do I have and will they keep growing if harvest them at this rate? Do I have enough food growing, or livestock living to maintain my life as I lose energy exploring and building? Do I live in peace, do I steal from another player and break their trust? How does the other person treat me after this? Maybe I shouldn't do that again. Do I take sides? How do I exchange with this other person that we will both gain? Do I have enough armor, food or shelter to protect me from the antagonistic characters in the game (these can be added or removed at will by the administrators.)

Also, we, as users of Minetest are completely free to change the rules of the game. With open source software, we have the freedom to maybe change the graphics, maybe introduce a hunger meter that means you have to eat every so often. Maybe we want to program variables in the "vegetable," code to reward companion planting or crop rotation. Do we want to add new varieties of sheep? Just add a, "mod." The software is freely changeable. This is not the case with Minecraft to the extent it is in minetest. Another benefit of this software is that there is a great Minetest community. There are message boards for help or new ideas and notices for new mods. Nolan, a user from minetest forum writes, "One good side I can name for you is that we do not have a horrible community. We have some nasty people here and there but mostly we are all helpful and [Minecrat] does not have such a great community. It's actually considered one of the top 10 multiplayer games worst communities....” An added plus is that budding software designers can contribute to the code. They can learn the code and by themselves or collaboratively build changes and contribute them to the online community if they want.

Minetest is artistic, scientific, communal, loads of fun, academic and technological. In my opinion it can be among the best uses of a computer in playful creativity.

Sincerely,
Your local conscientious Minetest advocate.

I'm rereading and finding some lack of continuity, and random comments, but I'm tired. I will edit tomorrow. Please look for the meat of the letter.
Last edited by maier.nathan on Mon Mar 10, 2014 01:09, edited 1 time in total.
 

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by Neuromancer » Tue Mar 11, 2014 00:20

hoodedice wrote:Thank you very much for your valuable contribution Nate.

However, I'm looking at something that goes on a larger scale - I want schools to use Minetest, if at all, for teaching instead of spending money on proprietary solutions. The main purpose of this thread was to see if there was enough spark and commitment in the community to let this project move up. I think that we are pretty laid back at the moment, and everyone is busy with their lives. However, I request everyone to give it a try, see if your local school wants to adopt video gaming for educating kids, and ask them to consider minetest.

On how it can be used, here is my two cents - Apart from the elementary kids using minetest to broaden their creativity, this could also be used in middle schools to teach basic coding to 8 to 13 year old kids. Minetest's modding API is very easy to pick up, and yet is just as expansive and robust as many other APIs I've seen (I've not seen many).

I am actually waiting for Necrosomething to post here - That guy has some neat ideas for expanding minetest.

I think the best way to get schools interested in Minetest as an educational tool would be to sell it as a way to teach programming. To do that we would have to make it easy for kids to learn lua with a turtle/computer craft mod. My 6 year old has done that stuff with ComputerCraft& Minecraft. Then once you have learned that, it is much easier to move to creating mods in lua for the older kids. Here were my ideas for this mod:
https://forum.minetest.net/viewtopic.php?id=8399

The thing is, minetest would allow much more powerful lua turtle api's than minecraft because lua is built into the modding system.
Last edited by Neuromancer on Tue Mar 11, 2014 00:29, edited 1 time in total.
 

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by dmonty » Tue Mar 11, 2014 04:51

Four of our high schools have purchaced bulk educational licencing for Minecraft and have installed dedicated minecraft servers. I've installed Minetest into the rest of the schools for those who don't want to buy the commercial product. The Minetest is an instant hit with the kids because many of them love Minecraft but not all have parents that will buy it for them. The teachers work to integrate classroom topics into a 3d environment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-9M4I1HRt8&t=22
https://www.google.ca/search?q=minecraft+education


* Issues:
- Minecraft requires per-user licensing which not all schools/students can afford.
- Minecraft connects to Internet servers which may have inappropriate chat.
- Minecraft requires separate dedicated server to run multiplayer.


* Solution:
- Opensource "Minetest" - free opensource minecraft alternative has been installed in all schools.
- Minetest requires no licensing - all schools can afford it.
- Minetest has built in client/server gui so teachers & students can host/share their own worlds within the school.
- Unlike Minecraft - Minetest is GUI driven - so end-users don't have to mess with the command-line java to get the clients and servers up and running.
- I've disabled Minetest Internet Games/Chat so there is Lan only chat.

Some Minetest features that I like:
- Minetest is written in C++ so it is allot less CPU and RAM intensive.
- Minetest worlds and inventory is much larger ( height, depth, inventory size ) because it's not limited by java.


------

If you are wondering how Minecraft/Minetest is Educational:

* Reading/Writing - teachers/students create signs with instructions on them.

* Math - inventory and crafting requires counting blocks. Haggling trading prices with villagers and friends.

* Geometry - working with 3D blocs x,y,z

* Geography/Environment
- Worlds are huge - use maps, compass, sun, moon, to not get lost.
- North East South West - is very useful when going on long journeys and coming home again.
- Layers of soil, rock, water, sand, minerals - observe how they interact with each other and plant life.

* Social Skills - working together to accomplish a task:
- replicate a historical building/site/battle/etc.
- create and share a puzzle, maze, or adventure - requires reading, writing, communicating.
- Friendly villagers will trade with you for a cost/bargain.
- Manage scarce resources ( food, diamonds, tools, etc ).

* Technology & Science
- built in logic, wiring, programming.
- Minecraft - Redstone.
- Minetest - Mesecons & Technic - craft and solar panel to a charging station to charge cutting lasers, chain saws etc.
- Logic chips allow you program code and learn software concepts: variables, loops, condition statements, objects etc.
 

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by rubenwardy » Tue Mar 11, 2014 06:36

You know that mc worlds stretch to 4,000km along the xy plane, compared to mt's 31km?
 

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by Morn76 » Tue Mar 11, 2014 10:10

rubenwardy wrote:You know that mc worlds stretch to 4,000km along the xy plane, compared to mt's 31km?


But vertically it's limited to 256 meters, which isn't a lot. That huge tower on the Karsthafen map could not be done in MC.
 

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by Inocudom » Tue Mar 11, 2014 12:32

Morn76 wrote:
rubenwardy wrote:You know that mc worlds stretch to 4,000km along the xy plane, compared to mt's 31km?


But vertically it's limited to 256 meters, which isn't a lot. That huge tower on the Karsthafen map could not be done in MC.


From what I understand, most people would find that 31km to be more than sufficient.

Very good work, dmonty.
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by twoelk » Tue Mar 11, 2014 18:18

wasn't that something like 30+ km in every direction from 0,0,0? So that would be near 64km along the xy plane, or any other plane.
 

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by rubenwardy » Tue Mar 11, 2014 18:23

rubenwardy wrote:You know that mc worlds stretch to 4,000km along the xy plane, compared to mt's 31km?


* From the origin
 

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by twoelk » Tue Mar 11, 2014 19:20

rubenwardy wrote:
rubenwardy wrote:You know that mc worlds stretch to 4,000km along the xy plane, compared to mt's 31km?


* From the origin

uhm, so mc is 8000km*8000km*256m?
 

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by Excalibur Zero » Tue Mar 11, 2014 19:32

If we're going to try to convince that Mintest could be a good tool for teaching leesons it would probably be a good idea to come up with some example lessons and make videos of them to show schools visually that Minetest can be a good educational tool.
 

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by dmonty » Sat Mar 15, 2014 07:08

Apologies for the mistakes in MC vs MT world size. Anyways I gathered some more classroom feedback...

Watched minetest in action in Elementary classrooms and discussed it with teachers. Some feedback from staff:

Primary/intermediate kids are learning the letters/numbers and symbols to grow their communication skills (ie: math, language, reading, writing):

* Needs a set of nice looking blocks with numbers printed on them: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
* Needs some operator blocks: + - x / = > < ( decimal . )
* Needs some ABCDEFG... blocks.
* The above blocks used in some lesson plan maps. e.g.
4 + 4 = ____ (build your answer)
10 - 2 = ____ (build your answer)
2 x 3 = ____ (build your answer )
4^2 = ____ (build your answer )
4^3 = ____ (build your answer)
2 + ___ = 10 ( build your answer )
2 4 6 8 __ ( what comes next - build your answer )
20 15 10 ____ ( what comes next - build your answer )
10/2 ( draw a row of 10 blocks. Split the 10 into two groups of ___ )
* Fill in the missing letters ( inventory has I F B W... ) map has A _ CDE _ G... etc
* An easy way for teachers to pick and deliver lesson maps to the kids. ( kids can work in groups )
* An inventory that is alpha-numeric friendly. ( 10 digits, mouse wheel through the alphabet or a word crafting table - make word blocks - not just signs )

* A treasure hunt map that requires answering questions while on a quest - solve linguistic and mathematical problems along the way. If they get the answer right then the teacher give them the next clue.


* Reward for finishing the lesson maps is free build time.



* One last note - not many teachers or students enjoy programming - programming to some is like a spelling test where you get an automatic fail ( crash ) when there is a single mistake. We still have teachers teach programming by drawing a GUI in VB6.
 

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by hoodedice » Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:10

Okay. Thank you for the epic feedback dmonty.

I've started working on the above feedback set. Note that we already do have a mod for Alphabets.

Could you pass me the teacher's contact information via PM? It would be very nice if you do so.
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by Topywo » Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:11

For what I read you'll probably need more custom made mods.

I found 2 mods using letters:

Alphabet mod by cactuz_pl

https://forum.minetest.net/viewtopic.php?id=2312


neon mod (glowing letters) by webdesigner97

https://forum.minetest.net/viewtopic.php?id=3260


A mod that may be used as a base for rewards

Achievements mod by rubenwardy:

https://forum.minetest.net/viewtopic.php?id=4870


Two mods that might be very interesting for (pre)elementary

phonics mod by Neuromancer

https://forum.minetest.net/viewtopic.php?id=4237


chemistry mod by Bas080

https://forum.minetest.net/viewtopic.php?id=4758


Edit: Thanks to a post of Hiradur in its topic, I saw there are actually 2 chemistry mods.

chemistry mod by 1244

https://forum.minetest.net/viewtopic.php?id=4779
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by Sokomine » Sat Mar 15, 2014 13:54

dmonty wrote:Watched minetest in action in Elementary classrooms and discussed it with teachers. Some feedback from staff:

Thanks for the report of what's needed. I'm sure that will help with development.

dmonty wrote:* Needs a set of nice looking blocks with numbers printed on them: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
* Needs some operator blocks: + - x / = > < ( decimal . )
* Needs some ABCDEFG... blocks.
* The above blocks used in some lesson plan maps. e.g.
4 + 4 = ____ (build your answer)
10 - 2 = ____ (build your answer)
2 x 3 = ____ (build your answer )
4^2 = ____ (build your answer )
4^3 = ____ (build your answer)
2 + ___ = 10 ( build your answer )
2 4 6 8 __ ( what comes next - build your answer )
20 15 10 ____ ( what comes next - build your answer )

Most of that can be done pretty easily. Simple operations like <number> <operator> <number> = <block placed by player> might be done entirely by random and automaticly. Same for rows (provided there's a seperator). Having number blocks for 0-99 might be rather impractical, so we'll need a positional notion based system - based on the relative position of the block.

dmonty wrote: 10/2 ( draw a row of 10 blocks. Split the 10 into two groups of ___ )
* Fill in the missing letters ( inventory has I F B W... ) map has A _ CDE _ G... etc

"Inventory has I F B W" might be rather unhandy here. It might be doable...but if the children can walk between the diffrent tasks and solve what they want in whichever order they want, then it might be more practical to give them all letters to choose from.

dmonty wrote:* An easy way for teachers to pick and deliver lesson maps to the kids. ( kids can work in groups )

Guess that depends heavily on what the teachers have in mind and what they consider to be a "lesson map". From the technical point of view, saving such lesson maps as worldedit files or simply generating them automaticly depending on a difficulty level might be possible solutions. How shall the "work in groups" work in detail?

dmonty wrote:* An inventory that is alpha-numeric friendly. ( 10 digits, mouse wheel through the alphabet or a word crafting table - make word blocks - not just signs )

Perhaps a word crafting table might be most convenient. Children seem to get along with the controls of the game pretty well.

dmonty wrote:* A treasure hunt map that requires answering questions while on a quest - solve linguistic and mathematical problems along the way. If they get the answer right then the teacher give them the next clue.

That may depend on their reading capabilities. It would also be possible to play recorded audio messages if necessary. In general, having a mob that, when right-clicked, shows a question and a field to enter the answer might be useful for adventure maps as well. Integrating that all into a convincing adventure may require some building on the part of the teacher :-)

dmonty wrote:* Reward for finishing the lesson maps is free build time.

Perhaps some more immediate rewards might also be useful. The children could get blocks (which they can build with after completing the lession), or if they placed the right answer, the block may start glowing. While wrong answers have to either be digged up again or refuse to stay at their place. Giving the right amount of feedback may be extremly important here.

Perhaps in case of correct answers, a bridge or tower could be build which will lead to the freebuild area.

dmonty wrote:* One last note - not many teachers or students enjoy programming - programming to some is like a spelling test where you get an automatic fail ( crash ) when there is a single mistake. We still have teachers teach programming by drawing a GUI in VB6.

They don't need to know much about programming for those simple tasks above. But those ideas above are also a bit unspecific in parts. Presentation is important even for mods in the forum...it's even more important for learning programs.
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by sfan5 » Sat Mar 15, 2014 18:29

dmonty wrote:Apologies for the mistakes in MC vs MT world size. Anyways I gathered some more classroom feedback...

Watched minetest in action in Elementary classrooms and discussed it with teachers. Some feedback from staff:

Primary/intermediate kids are learning the letters/numbers and symbols to grow their communication skills (ie: math, language, reading, writing):

* Needs a set of nice looking blocks with numbers printed on them: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
* Needs some operator blocks: + - x / = > < ( decimal . )
* Needs some ABCDEFG... blocks.
* The above blocks used in some lesson plan maps. e.g.
4 + 4 = ____ (build your answer)
10 - 2 = ____ (build your answer)
2 x 3 = ____ (build your answer )
4^2 = ____ (build your answer )
4^3 = ____ (build your answer)
2 + ___ = 10 ( build your answer )
2 4 6 8 __ ( what comes next - build your answer )
20 15 10 ____ ( what comes next - build your answer )
10/2 ( draw a row of 10 blocks. Split the 10 into two groups of ___ )
* Fill in the missing letters ( inventory has I F B W... ) map has A _ CDE _ G... etc
* An easy way for teachers to pick and deliver lesson maps to the kids. ( kids can work in groups )
* An inventory that is alpha-numeric friendly. ( 10 digits, mouse wheel through the alphabet or a word crafting table - make word blocks - not just signs )

* A treasure hunt map that requires answering questions while on a quest - solve linguistic and mathematical problems along the way. If they get the answer right then the teacher give them the next clue.


* Reward for finishing the lesson maps is free build time.



* One last note - not many teachers or students enjoy programming - programming to some is like a spelling test where you get an automatic fail ( crash ) when there is a single mistake. We still have teachers teach programming by drawing a GUI in VB6.

Here is a video of the mod I'm working on right now: https://mediacru.sh/ph_GCppPdO5C
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by dmonty » Sat Mar 15, 2014 19:19

Thank you for your feedback. I had a look at some of the Alphabet mods - and it seems that some are crafted using braille which would be insanely difficult for primary kids. Plus the letters look plain 2D. Need some nice looking 3D alphabet blocks. A letter block with some "bling" appearance to it.

The phonics mod looks good. Thank you for that one.
https://forum.minetest.net/viewtopic.php?id=4237
* I like how it pronounced words with the blue blocks.
* A bit hard for little kids to build the words but they could have a map with pre-built words and then they can use the mouth block to help them pronounce them.
* It would be good if the top and bottom of those blocks are blank as the top can look a bit confusing as you walk around the block e.g. ou => no (upside down from the other side)
* To help teachers a way to auto-generate a word-world? Or feed in a word-list.txt which will auto-place those words in a world?

I may be able to modify the phonetics letter blocks and get our district's graphics artist to create the skins for the blocks. 4 sides have the letter on it, top and bottom blank.

I like the idea of an alphabet/word crafting table where the kids can use the keyboard to create blocks. Craft the word then have it auto populate the immediate inventory with that word - so the kids can pace the letter/number blocks on the ground without too many clicks/drags.

I like the chemistry mods.

( thinking out loud here... )
In order to make minetest easier to use: I created a wrapper script that unziped a set of mods and a sample world into the student's .minetest folder. I think I will have to write a small app that allows teachers to build or choose a world ( math or language or chemistry ) then they can auto share (push-out) that lesson with their students. The client/server model may not work well for individual lesson plans.

For the teacher to choose "Addition" or "Subtraction" map and push it out to students will be very useful. So I could modify the wrapper script to start
1) "Pick my teacher" pick-list ( remembers last choice )
2) rsync the teachers shared worlds with the student.
3) rsync the school's shared worlds with the student.
4) rsync the schools standard "mods" folder to the student's account.
--
Teacher have a "share my world lessons" interface.
Simple multi-pick-list (or checklist) to enable/disable shared worlds. Option to force-overwrite to re-set the lesson map.

I now have lots of ideas and things to code. Thank you for your feedback.

Not sure if this forum should morph into a TODO Action list to track: done, in-development, todo.
Last edited by dmonty on Sun Mar 16, 2014 13:40, edited 1 time in total.
 

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by dmonty » Sat Mar 15, 2014 23:46

sfan5 wrote:Here is a video of the mod I'm working on right now: https://mediacru.sh/ph_GCppPdO5C


This is perfect! Awesome!

I can't wait to demo this to some of our math co-coordinators.
 

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by sfan5 » Sun Mar 16, 2014 17:04

dmonty wrote:
sfan5 wrote:Here is a video of the mod I'm working on right now: https://mediacru.sh/ph_GCppPdO5C


This is perfect! Awesome!

I can't wait to demo this to some of our math co-coordinators.

Heres the source code: https://github.com/sfan5/minetest-teaching
Mods: Mesecons | WorldEdit | Nuke & Minetest builds for Windows (32-bit & 64-bit)
 

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