My son began playing Minecraft a few years ago and it wasn’t long before his interest in the game led him further into the world of gaming and computer programming. For a variety of reasons, he was frustrated with the atmosphere of many of the online servers he joined.
Minecraft Opens Doors
About a year ago, he began hosting his own server and creating his own mods for the game. What impressed me most was that everything he learned was all self taught. Whenever he ran into difficulty, he would simply google tutorials and watch YouTube videos of others sharing their knowledge.
When his server host wasn’t reliable, he shopped around for a new host. He even created a list to compare services and price points of different providers. His research led him to Netherbox and he couldn’t be happier with the customer service he has been provided.
A plugin is something for a Minecraft server to change certain aspects, whether in-game or in the code. A mod is something for Minecraft that allows you to change your Minecraft world completely.
One of the things he likes most about Netherbox is the ability to custom code the plugins. He’ll spend hours downloading plugins and tweaking the java code. As he has progressed, he has expressed a growing interest in learning Java Programming so that he can create a server from scratch.
Before we jump into advanced programming classes, however, I feel it is important to have a solid foundation in computer science. I believe he should have knowledge of how a computer works – how the hardware components work together.
When I discovered an introductory computer science course offered for FREE from Stanford University, I was very intrigued. Students work through the material and exercises at their own pace and upon completion of the exercises with a score of 80% or higher, students can generate a Statement of Accomplishment from within the course.
In Computer Science 101, participants play and experiment with short bits of “computer code” to bring to life to the power and limitations of computers. Everything works within the browser, so there is no extra software to download or install. The course also provides a general background on computers today: what is a computer, what is hardware, what is software, what is the internet.
He’s only three weeks into the material but thus far he is really enjoying it. Each lesson begins with video instruction whereby the instructor, Nick Parlante, walks students through the material. As the video plays, there is an accompanying “lab” component where participants play with short bits of computer code – the same code referenced in the video. It’s hands-on and immediate.
After each lesson, there is an exercise section whereby students are “tested” on the material. It functions in the same way as it did during the in-class “lab” but the questions are more in-depth. That’s more involved than answering multiple choice questions. These code-writing exercises ramp up gradually.
CS101 is an excellent first step for someone who then wants to take a full programming course. I know that upon completion of this material, he’ll be more comfortable in a more in-depth course.
You might also be interested in my Ultimate Guide to Teaching with Minecraft.