Minecraft Modding for Kids with Learn to Mod: Review

51WsodzjwqL._SX396_BO1,204,203,200_I was given this book and a three month free subscription to the site for my review.  These are all my own opinions.  I was not paid for this review.  The book showed up and my kids were jumping all over.  MUCH excitement.  Explosive decibel levels.  The book is smaller than a normal “dummies” book – which I tend to dislike just as a gut response to the name alone.  How about … “Wanna learn more?”  Anything would be better.  Another day, another blog post.

Here is my JJ within hours of the book arriving.  learntomod1 learntomod

He is computer savvy.  We use codeacademy.org all year as our coding for homeschooling.  JJ is 8.  “MOM!  I’m stuck!”  Sigh.  End of the dream of my beckoning book and THM chai latte.  OK.  Let’s see.  1.  You can’t go in through Google Chrome.  2.  You have to own or BUY Minecraft from Steam.  $30.  Ouch!  3.  Unity – we had to download that three times.  4.  Plus:  the site is easy to navigate and there is an AMAZING customer support staff ready to help you via email… although you are online with LearntoMod.com.  I periodically stopped and waited for help.

Two hours.  All done.  Running.  JJ was able to complete badges one to three.  After that, he couldn’t go on.  He read the book.  He tried to follow and apply it to the program.  He quit.  He never quits unless he feels unsuccessful for an extended period of time.  Enter LB (11).  She has been block modding and using beginning Java.  She made it through one badge.  We had a hard time using the simulator and often had to pick the other option.  She found the “control M” command frustrating.  It was hard to read the words on the Minecraft screen.  She was frustrated and went to work on her Roominate.  If we had been on a large monitor, it would have been better.  This is not the best for laptop work.  You need a larger screen and high resolution.

Stop and guage:  I loved that the program, challenges, and projects were so well thought out.  For example, if you were a coder, you would not always type in the pretty code or pull the blocks.  You would have a problem and have to see the application and work backwards to solve the coding issue.  “Scrambled Code” and the fix the problem projects were great.  Homeschoolers DO NOT want to be spoon fed – no learners do – and in a real-time/life coding experience you will need to problem-solve.  This addresses this!  The videos were short, but helpful.

In walks KB.  13.  I thought – ahhh… she can write this review for me!  Nope.  Within minutes we were stuck on a project.  I couldn’t get into my email to see how customer service suggested that I fix it.  At least they kept trying.  😉  She was out after four hours and reading/annotating the book.  She took notes.  Watched the videos several times.  They were informative – but there was no venue in them for if this happens, do this.  That might be asking too much.

Final review:  If you have a solid programming background and time to sit with your kids one-on-one to work on this.  It is perfect.  If you have a kid SO in love with Minecraft and coding to work independently through this, perfect.  If you have a high schooler just dying to code.  They can pick between Java and block modding.  Perfect.  Honestly and sadly, I was going to buy Learn to Mod for my kids for the year as their computer science.  The “kicker” was the spam and malware that I found on my computer after using this.  289 malware hits.  Some were rather serious.  I had two trojans.  SO:  I think we will stick with free –  www.codeacademy.com & Khan Academy’s program.  Put your kids into their system – make a classroom – and they can work through it.  It also gives tutorials and gauges where they are and realign their placement.

Again, these are my thoughts and reactions to the product.  My kids were sad, but they were so frustrated they went off to do other things that engaged them in active coding.  Research shows that by 2020 there will be a shortage of 2 billion computer skills jobs.  I want my kids to be a part of that – to at least have the schema and training – and then go into the field they are drawn to – think football player – it will be there fall back.  For more info on this go to Thomas Jefferson Education.com.  We are thinking computer coding AA’s and into college from there.  Thine Will be done!

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7 thoughts on “Minecraft Modding for Kids with Learn to Mod: Review

  1. Can I ask, were you unhappy with the product because you didn’t already have Minecraft (the separate $30 program)? Did your son get stuck after 3 badges because of that? I am considering purchasing the learntomod subscription and minecraft separately.

    Also, I’m a bit worried about the spam and malware you encountered. I use my computer daily but I don’t have specialized computer knowledge–did an anti-virus software catch these things and warn you? How did you realize you had 2 trojans? Did you have damage done to your system?

    I really appreciate your review here and I hope you have a few minutes to answer these additional questions (I’m looking to make this purchase for my 9 yo birthday) Thanks in advance!

    • Hi, Toni! I was concerned by both the additional $30 price tag AND the Minecraft (Mojang) platform. You buy it as a download via Mojang, and I was besieged with spam and malware. We have a XBox – loathe to me, but hubby wanted – and they play Minecraft on that – far!!! safer. It is an isolated system, so we receive no viruses/malware/tracking etc. on our network. I use Superanti-spyware and Norton… the first is a free download. It helps. Look for the guy with shades and a hat.

      I have tons of friends who have Minecraft on their desktops, but I was taking a coding class and blogging daily reviews. It slowed down my system. After noticing that, I scanned everything. Trojans. Lots of junk. I uninstalled all of it – Mojang, etc. I got our money back for Minecraft.

      I liked the product, just not what you need to use to run it. It was also exceedingly slow. The program and Minecraft have to work at the same time. Too much for my laptop system. My son had fun and learned some basic coding. CodeAcademy.ORG is free and created by all of the big cyber heads as a “PBS” learning venue. It uses blockly – but the kids can upgrade to direct coding for free. We love it.

      I guess what I am saying is 1. Try Khan and Code Academy (so!!! fun). Free is always good. 2. There is a glut on the market of these mod training type software. Google homeschool learn code Minecraft. You will get 50. Also, check out Homeschool Buyer’s Coop. They give you a great way to find things and see what you think. Also, Cathy Duffy is a good resource. You will find one you like. I would steer clear of anything that has you download an external game to run it. More money, more taxing on your computer.

      No problem. I hope that answers your questions. It’s likely clear as “mud,” but if you have more questions – just go to FB or reply here.

      Blessings,
      Sam

  2. Hi Sam,

    I’m preparing to teach a class based on the LearntoMod software for the first time. Right now Never mind the fact my computer has been crashing since I’ve started LTM, but I feel the directions are so obtuse. For the amount of time I’m spending figuring this out, I don’t feel like there is much meaningful learning.

    I have the large screen monitor and the type is still too small. Control M does not seem to produce anything – not a character or a mod- and the graphics I find very off putting. “Sheep” are these weird Venus-fly trap looking creatures or scorpion shaped monsters ( depends on the badge your working on). The Creeper is nothing like the Creeper on the original game. When my kids saw it they coiled back and shouted, Eww! Btw they are 9 and 10. I understand perhaps the folks at LTM are trying to steer kids away from a fixed perceptions in order to help them learn to code with more flexibility. But honestly, IMO its just too much.

    I’ve reached out via email and found their costumer service to be kind and very willing to help. I googled LTM reviews and found yours and I feel a sense of relief. There is a strong possibility I’m just doing it all wrong and perhaps this is a really good platform to learn to code, but for total beginners I can’t recommend it.

    Thanks for posting your review, and letting me vent 🙂

    Molly

    • Oh Molly! I am so, so sorry. Please promise me that you will download the free Anti-Malware software and use it ASAP!!! It gets all the tracking cookies, trojens, etc. I teach. Now I teach in a co-op and at home ;). I have taught in the classroom, church.. I wouldn’t use this software to teach coding. It has less to do with the program, although IMO it is hard to align with Minecraft’s program and makes using it after lesson 3 VERY difficult. The book was super easy to use, but after lesson 3, we were lost. The larger problem is with Mojang in itself – they are the Minecraft creators – used Atari’s old mod. That’s why it looks so old school. I have gotten spam, trojens, and the system lockdowns from Mojang. There has to be a program that is easy to use in a co-op and has it’s own contained platform. We use Codeacademy.org. Free and VERY cool. If you find the creator of Google a rock star.. that way of thinking so cool. It is a video clip explaining something – the need for Blockly. Then a game to use the new info, learn, and play a rocking cool game (Elsa/Plants vs. Zombies / etc.). I would sit-down, go to Code Academy. Go thru the sessions for the number of classes, and I would write a lesson passed on one module or two for each class. Some take longer. I’d sketch out each session and what we would do in alignment with Code. Kids enter. Computers on. Log into Code Academy. Big picture to them. Scaffold. Then have them watch the cool videos. Stop – discuss with open-ended questions. How would you use? Why was it important discovery, etc. Then on to using it with support as you walk around. They might work in pairs. ALSO – Lego Education has a Homeschool Kit that is not cheap but teaches the basics of coding. WeDo2 – don’t believe the age range. I saw it at a toy/STEM conference. SO NEAT. They build, code with BLOCKLY, and then have a free think piece. Oh and the curriculum you buy, but is DONE for you. You might call them and see what would work best for 9 to 10 and teaches coding skills. They align their lessons with the curriculum focuses for the US – pollination, predator prey, history, literacy… etc. I like that the coding goes 3D to Lego hands-on. One build is making a bee use a sensor to find a plant that has the correct color. NOW – with that said – we also tried a build and code program Light Up! It had 3 or 4 builds and codes – circuits – but it was made to use wo any scaffold. You need some, though as you need the skills to code it. Free fall. Not like Legos that free build is great. Makes a product. This must be coded. So, if you want to make a buzzer for your dog or whatever the impetus has to come from the air. No directions. No instruction. No support. SO – I should have gotten LittleBits or something that has more support. Ah well. Saved 50% for a review. Next time, buying the set 😉 Email me anytime you need to vent. SOOOO get that. Now read about blowing up candy with Candy Experiments – get that book and teach a class on it!!!! OH MY! SO MUCH FUN!!!!!! And we learned so, so much! And many “sidetrips.”

      Sincerely,
      Sam Lehmann

  3. I think you have already answered this, but just wanted to make sure…
    Is it worth trying LearnToMod or should I just skip over it all together?

    I bought a “Modding Minecraft” (for Dummies) book (might be the same book with slightly different title) which comes with 60 days of LearnToMod server access.

    I already have Minecraft software on PC and a Minecraft account.

    I am concerned about the malware though… was it the LearnToMod software that had the trojans or your PC Minecraft? That would be a deal breaker for me.

    • Hi, MALK. Here is the link to the book I was given. https://www.amazon.com/Minecraft-Modding-Dummies-Sarah-Guthals/product-reviews/1119050049/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_hist_1?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&filterByStar=one_star&pageNumber=1The Here is a great response about the book on Amazon. I always read the negative reviews ;). “The book is outdated with the website. I taught a class of 20 kids with it. One coding exercise that took over two hours didn’t even work – and we copied it verbatim. I don’t recommend even though it has it’s own website. Maybe do the online learning thing on the website.” It just didn’t work. It was more frustrating than say Bitsbox which is SO worth the money and teaches them instantly to code without a HUGE book on their lap. I hope your 9 year old is an avid reader. The LearntoMod site was temperamental, at best. The LtM and Minecraft are not compatible, so we just kept getting tossed and lost all the work my son did. Frustrating. Bitsbox… or Scratch … or the free Code.org… SO good with pioneers in the industry teaching them. I am not sure where the trojans came from but it was terrible. I think it was both Minecraft and the open LearntoMod app. I hope this helps. Have a great Easter.

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