Java Coding Minecraft with Youth Digital’s Mod Design 1 Course

Disclosure: We were sent a voucher for the Mod Design 1 course from Youth Digital in order to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received. All opinions expressed are honest and our own. Affiliate links appear in post.

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My two sons, 7 and 13, are huge fans of Minecraft. What started as an obsession has settled into a robust hobby where they can be creative, entertained, and even spend valuable time together. In fact, Minecraft remains the one thing that brings my two boys together, even though their ages are so far apart.

When I heard about Youth Digital’s Mod Design 1 class, I thought it would be perfect for my boys. The course is designed for children 8-14 years old, and teaches Java coding and other skills for a student to create their own unique Minecraft mod. (“mod” = a modification of the standard Minecraft game, adding custom, creative elements determined by the modder)

Youth Digital Mod Design 1 Java Minecraft course

Important note: although the Mod Design 1 course comes with all the peripheral software your child will need to create a mod, Minecraft is sold separately, and yes, you will need it for the course. We’ve had Minecraft on our PC for a long time, so this was not an issue.

Once we got access to the Mod Design 1 course, installation was a breeze. I’ve seen a lot of comments online about Youth Digital’s decision to use older versions of both Java and Minecraft for this course, but we personally have not had any problems, and I believe Youth Digital does a good job addressing this issue in their FAQ page.

We jumped into the video lessons of Module 1, and determined right away that this was going to be fun! Justin, the instructor, is very funny, and with a clever script and some simple, fun effects, the videos are engaging.

Eli laughing at Youth Digital videos

I caught Eli’s delighted reaction to one of Justin’s videos in the Youth Digital Mod Design 1 course.

There are 12 Modules or lessons in the Mod Design 1 course, which Youth Digital estimates is about 30 hours of learning. I’m going through the course right now with my 7yo, and I’m guessing it will take us longer than 30 hours to complete it. That’s ok, though, because we’re having a fantastic time learning and spending that time together. And we have access to the videos and online support for a year, so we can be completely self-paced within that time frame. (*note: although online access expires after one year, the software that comes with the course is yours to keep.)

We’ve now worked our way through Module 4, and I can tell you – this course is thorough. The pace is exact, the lessons precise, even covering basic computer functions, like what a right click on the mouse does, and how to copy and paste. There is a lot of repetition in the videos, and every new principle of Java and design is reinforced in a variety of ways, including reviews, quizzes, and even troubleshooting exercises.

Doing a new Module before bed has become our new nighttime routine. I love watching Eli puzzle out what he's supposed to do next.

Doing a new Module before bed has become our new nighttime routine. I love watching Eli puzzle out what he’s supposed to do next.

Although Justin is a fabulous teacher, my 13yo son was not a fan of the repetition and measured pace; he ultimately decided the course wasn’t suited for him. BUT, the style has been perfect for my 7yo son, though he’s not quite independent enough to do it on his own. I would think 9-12 years old is the sweet spot for the Mod Design 1 course.

It has been wonderful to watch Eli’s confidence grow as he learns more through this course. He’s starting to recognize files and codes right away, and I’m having to shadow him less and less. He has a sense of discovery about every new principle, and the “aha” moments are priceless. More than anything is the pride I see in his face when he realizes what he has accomplished – it’s wonderful!

In addition to seeing his skill level advance, I also enjoy watching Eli’s creativity blossom. He’s decided to make his mod a mash-up of his two favorite games: Skylanders + Minecraft! Which means he’s creating Sklyander Traptanium swords, pickaxes, and more. And he’s doing it not only through Java, but with the use of the graphic design software Gimp, too. His opportunities for learning feel endless with this course.

Eli designing in Gimp

We’re only 1/3 of the way through the course, but it’s something we’re committed to, and I’m excited to see what Eli’s mod will look like at the end, and how he will feel about all of his accomplishments. We’ll share more with you as we continue this journey!

What about you? Does your son or daughter play Minecraft? Do you think they would be interested in the Mod Design 1 course from Youth Digital?

  • jenlynnthomas

    Hey friend! My 11yo and 8yo would LOVE this. They love Minecraft and coding and all great stuff like this. But my question to you, is…if you hadn’t gotten this voucher, would you pay the money to buy this for your kids? I’ve looked into it before and been put off by the $250 price tag (currently on sale for $180 on amazon). Is it really worth the price…in your opinion!

    • Hi, Jen!! 🙂 Ok, VERY good question. First of all, yes – if I had not been able to review this program in exchange for the voucher, I would have paid for it myself. Isaac’s birthday is in April, and that was the plan. 🙂 The price is steep, but I’ll tell you a few reasons why I think it’s worth it. First of all, if you do buy through youthdigital.com, they have a 30-day money back guarantee. Which I think is important, because it’s hard to gauge just how well your child will take to the course and the format. For instance, I was VERY surprised that Isaac decided it wasn’t for him. I’m not sure that guarantee extends to other purchases online, including Amazon, although of course you get it for much less on Amazon. But back to the value – I believe you can absolute eek out every penny worth of value for this program. The different skills they teach are far-reaching and apply to a wide variety of online environments. I’ve seen it like a domino effect for Eli – what he’s learning has helped him overall gain experience and confidence with computers, not just in Minecraft. I watch with him and take copious notes, and even *I* am learning stuff I never knew! And we’re only 1/3 through the course. And while the online support is only good for a year, the software you get is yours to keep, and there are a ton of different things that can be done with it. My opinion is that this course (or any offered by Youth Digital, really) is a good, solid door into the world of coding and design, and while it gives you a good foundation, it also encourages you to do a TON more stuff, way beyond the course. Plus, it puts you in a very supportive community of others who value kids learning digital skills, and there’s so much help and encouragements there. Finally, on a personal note, the more I learn about this company, the more I really want to support them. They are good people, doing some amazing things for kids. I know that’s not always “the best” reason to spend your money somewhere, but it does matter to me.