James Delaney is the Founder and Managing Director of Blockworks, a fantastic EdTech initiative that creates learning environments and experiences with Minecraft. Recently we spoke with James to learn a little more about the company and what is next in-store…
What was the inspiration behind starting BlockWorks?
BlockWorks started entirely by accident! We began as a group of friends with a passion for building worlds in Minecraft, and it was many years before we became a company and realised the value that Minecraft could offer in the education sector.
Tell us a little bit about the tech behind the product.
The tech is simple; we use the world’s most popular videogame, Minecraft, to deliver educational experiences. For some projects, we use ‘Minecraft: Education Edition’, a special edition of the game that has been designed for classroom use. For other projects, we use the standard version of the game that kids play at home.
Why should more people be using Minecraft?
In addition to being a hugely popular videogame, Minecraft is also a brilliant digital learning tool. It naturally encourages creativity and problem-solving, whilst providing a fun and engaging environment for learning to take place. Minecraft is not just a game, it is a place where millions of children socialise, play and create — and it’s our job to bring meaningful educational content to this place.
What are you looking to achieve next?
Most of our educational projects are with museums, galleries and companies with education departments. We are now trying to work directly with teachers, schools and learning institutions to deliver Minecraft content suitable for everyday classroom use.
Looking back, what would you have done differently?
Nothing. I’ve made many mistakes throughout my journey with BlockWorks, but each mistake has been a learning opportunity — without which BlockWorks wouldn’t be where it is today!
What piece of advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Be adaptable and quick to act — edtech, as with all technology, moves at great speed and you need to be able to move with it!
How do you think the support in the UK has helped grow BlockWorks?
The UK is lucky to have a huge number of great museums and galleries, with a serious commitment to learning and education. These institutions have been bold in their use of innovative digital technologies, including games such as Minecraft.
What do you think is the next big thing that is going to happen in EdTech?
As someone who spends most of my time in gaming rather than education, that’s a bit tricky for me to answer! I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see virtual and augmented reality technology, pioneered by the games industry, having a big impact on the education sector in the near future.
You can follow blockworks on twitter @BlockWorksYT, Instagram @blockworks and youtube for more.