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.
– – –
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)
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.
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.
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.
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?