THE popular video game Minecraft is opening new ways of teaching according to Microsoft, who are celebrating a course leader from Barnsley College for his innovative use of the game.

Gavin Mitchell has won the Microsoft Educator Community Engagement Award for developing a unique video game teaching program designed to increase student engagement and teach them about important issues.

The award is part of the wider Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIEE) programme which supports 1,355 organisations across the country to improve their educational capabilities through technology.

Gavin said: “I’m really honoured to have won this award for the work we’ve been doing.

“I couldn’t have done it without my colleague, Matt Wilson, as we worked really closely on it and Matt is just as responsible as me for the success of it.

“All we wanted to achieve from doing it was to add to the experience of the students and help them learn more effectively by using this creative, digital method. I’d like to think they’ve found it fun too.

“To receive recognition for doing this is very unexpected and I’d like to thank my colleagues for the nominations.”

Gavin is a course leader for the college’s Learning for Living and Work (LfLW) department which supports students with additional and complex needs – his development of video game education has assisted in making learning more accessible and fun for his students.

Rob Lea, E-Systems technologist at Barnsley College, nominated Gavin alongside Matt.

He added: “Myself and Matt nominated Gavin for the work he is doing with students in LfLW using Minecraft to explain and ensure understanding of key issues such as sustainability.

“Using Minecraft fully engages students and creates an immersive ‘world’ and environment for them to learn.”