Virtual Problems IRL

A great friend of mine, Matthew Dolmont, has found a way to combine two of his primary passions – gaming and teaching – into some amazing projects at the International School of Phnom Penh.  He’s been using Minecraft to teach students how to solve real-world problems in virtual worlds that he works really hard to create.  Here’s a quick video of Matt explaining a lesson he’s developed to teach 5th graders about animal trafficking:

The most amazing part about this strategy is how his students reflect on the real-world problems that they identify and collaborate to come up with strategies to solve through their experiences in this virtual world.  You can read about it in detail on his Tiny Humans blog, but I’ve pulled out a few quotes here:


One of the Poachers said:

“It was hard being hungry, you can’t escape from the law and it takes a long time to grow or make money for food”

One of the Rangers said:

“Poachers only need one shot to kill them forever.  We can only take a picture and hope the police will catch them in time.  Maybe while waiting for police [the Rangers] kill even more and we can’t stop them”



There are so many elements of student engagement going on with this strategy and it’s hard to argue with the positive outcomes that he’s managed to achieve with these students.  I can’t help but think that it’s not long before these students get to college and EXPECT this type of learning.  Matt has also developed a lesson about community markets that you can read more about here.


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