MOD DESIGN 1
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Kids Learn to Code in Java®
Our mission is to teach kids coding and design concepts by creating awesome projects with cutting-edge technology. In our most popular online course, kids learn the fundamentals of Java programming by coding their own Mods for Minecraft® (for PC or Mac, sold separately).
For every item, block or creature they want to add, kids first design the graphics, then they modify real Java code to quickly program their new features. Students edit Java templates in order to learn the fundamentals of the language without getting bogged down typing hundreds of lines of code one by one. At the end of the course, they will have their own polished Mod that they created on their own.
In the process, kids learn the most important concepts of object-oriented computer programming — such as how to instantiate new objects, call methods, define parameters, and run loops — all in the service of adding new features and functionality to their final project.
As students develop their project, they'll use Minecraft® Version 1.6.4 for testing, but upon completion, their Mods can be easily exported for Minecraft® Version 1.8, where they can be shared and played with friends!
Mod Design 1 is a unique opportunity for young students to learn Java in an exciting and meaningful way. They will not only come away with an impressive project to share with their friends, but also with a foundational knowledge of object-oriented programming.
Fun, Interactive & Rewarding!
Youth Digital is never boring. On the contrary, students watch videos, respond to questions, earn badges, and complete quizzes and challenging assignments. Our technology education classes are highly interactive and engaging.
*Minecraft ®/TM & © 2009-2015 Mojang / Microsoft
"A fantastic product ... my son is proud to be programming for real!"
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Includes (1 Year)
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Game Design 1
Students who like coding will enjoy creating their own video game from scratch using an SDK to write the If/Then Statements.
3D Game Design 1
Students who enjoy the artistic side of Mod Design 1 will love the creative freedom of making an entire world of their own in 3D Game Design 1.
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Quick Answers to Your Parent Questions
Simply put, a mod is a modification. They are changes and additions to the Java source code that modifies Minecraft’s original game content, allowing a coder to alter the gameplay, create new experiences, or change how they interact with the Minecraft® world.
All of our courses are self-paced, so students can login and work whenever they like; there are no set times or schedules. In each module they watch interactive instructional videos, take quizzes, and complete troubleshooting challenges as they learn to make their game, app or mod from start to finish. When they complete the course, students submit their final project and receive personalized feedback from the teacher!
Although each student works through the course at their own pace, and they can spend as much time working as they like, we estimate that the average student takes about 30 hours to complete a course.
We do require that each child have their own separate account. However we do have a standing 10% off discount for siblings! If you would like to take advantage of this discount please enter this special code: YDfsl10 at check out, then click Recalculate before Go to Payments to complete your order.
Any of our level 1 courses would be an appropriate place to start, and we teach assuming students are new to the subject. None of the level 1 courses have a prerequisite, so you may just choose based on what they are most interested in learning to create!
Once you purchase the course, you'll receive a confirmation email with login instructions. Use that to login on youthdigital.com. After you've logged in, select your course and begin with the very first mod—Mod 1: Getting Started. Our instructor, Justin, will take you through the steps to install the software and begin the course!
One potential problem for kids playing Minecraft® would be spending too much time on it. As it is a game that involves collecting goods and building up your assets from scratch, it can be addictive in the same way many games today can be addictive. As kids play more, they quickly gain a real sense of expertise over the world and the rules that govern it, which kids really enjoy.
When playing on a public multiplayer server, there is also a slight risk of being exposed to inappropriate language from other users. Although there are administrators of these servers who are in charge of monitoring this type of frowned-upon behavior, some inappropriate language can sneak through. The same caution should be applied here as is in any internet browsing.
Playing Minecraft® by yourself on your own computer is 100% safe and appropriate for all ages. There is no real graphic violence or mature themes — just exploring and defending against the mysterious creatures that come out at night (Skeletons, Spiders, and strange green monsters called "Creepers")
Playing Minecraft® on a public multiplayer server can be unsafe to the extent that any public internet browsing can be unsafe. Users on these servers are able to write public messages to each other (similar to a Facebook wall), and while there are safeguards in place to prevent people from swearing and being rude to each other, there could always be a user online who does obey the rules or etiquette. As long as your child understands this and knows how to deal with the risks of internet browsing in general (such as watching YouTube videos responsibly), they should be fine on one of these public multiplayer servers.
There are a lot of really positive uses for Minecraft®. First of all, single-player Minecraft® requires critical thinking and creativity. Players must choose how and where to invest their time and resources in order to accomplish their goals and build what they want.
Second, on a local server or on a public multiplayer server, players collaborate and work together to accomplish tasks they would not be able to accomplish on their own. For example, they could combine their assets to build a giant replica of the empire state building out of blocks!
Third, Minecraft® exposes students to foundational computer knowledge and vernacular that they would not likely encounter, otherwise. For example, many young Minecraft® users now feel comfortable talking about IP Addresses, Servers and Clients, and Command Line operations.
Fourth, Minecraft® is also being implemented in classrooms all over the world in order to teach subjects in the core curriculum. Math teachers are using it for lessons on X, Y, and Z coordinate systems, Physics teachers for the Laws of Motion, and even History teachers for re-enactments of important historical events.
Finally, students can also use Minecraft® as a springboard to learn to program in the Java Programming Language. Students who want to write their own Mods have to learn the basics of Java in order to do so. This is an exciting educational opportunity because it gets kids really excited about learning programming, which can be a very dry topic.
If your child is really interested in Minecraft®, you have likely heard them ask if they can "Set up a Server". What they mean by this is that they'd like to create a map of their own and invite their friends to play with them, all hosted by your home computer.
Here is what Minecraft Wiki states:
Warning: Before following these instructions please note that running server software on your computer without a clear understanding of what you are doing may seriously harm your system and lead to vulnerabilities. Do not open ports in your router without knowing exactly what you are doing."
If done correctly, setting up a server can be done securely. The difficult part is getting the server set up in the first place, which requires some technical work and possibly some troubleshooting.
Luckily, there are a lot of really good resources out there for setting up a server. Here's a link to a clear video explaining how to do it and here is the best text-based tutorial from Minecraft Wiki.
While students are working on their mod and testing it, they use MInecraft version 1.6.4, but at the end of the course, we will show students how to easily and automatically export their mod so that it is compatible with the latest version of Minecraft. This will make it easy to play your completed mod or share it with your friends.
We chose to stick with version 1.6.4 as the modding platform for our students because we wanted to provide them with the most stable and reliable modding environment possible. The code for the most recent version of Minecraft is always changing as the developers fix bugs and adjust features. These constant updates make for a very frustrating learning experience, especially for someone trying to learn the code for the first time.
The code for version 1.6.4, on the other hand, is completely stable and reliable, which allows someone modding the game to work on their project without worrying about frequent subtle changes in syntax and code structure.
That is why we teach students on an static, stable version of the game, then allow them to update their mod at the end of the course so it is compatible with the latest version of Minecraft. With this process, students get the benefit of a stable learning platform and the most up-to-date mod to play and share with their friends.
There are definitely a lot of free resources out there, but not anywhere near the caliber of a Youth Digital course. We offer the best possible online learning environment in which students can create amazing projects. We also have years of experience, a team of passionate online teachers, and an easy-to-use platform. Most importantly, we promise to actively help each student achieve their goals as they work through our courses. If students are ever confused or run into a problem with their code, we have an entire team of Online Teachers, available to help resolve any and all of their questions.
Modding is a really complex process, especially because our students use professional development tools and a real programming language, so we view the support we provide as critical to a student's positive experience.
It is certainly possible to learn a lot from the wide variety free resources available online, but if you encounter a problem, it can be really difficult to get help. Often, answers can only be found on public forums, which are difficult to sift through and regularly inappropriate for younger audiences.
In addition to support for the students, we believe we’ve developed the best possible learning platform for kids. Youth Digital offers funny and engaging videos, clear instructions, badges, points, and challenges to solidify their new skills. We have also created software that makes the entire modding process far easier to set up and use. The reality is: most of the free resources are complicated and user-unfriendly for our students.
For these reasons, we dedicate a lot of resources to producing exceptional courses, creating user-friendly modding software, and most importantly, supporting students throughout the entire process as they create their first mod and continue to develop their project for an entire year.
We require each student to have their own license because the course was designed specifically for an individual student. We’ve added many features that motivate, support, and track an individual student’s work that would not be possible with a shared account.
The most important benefit of having your own account is that you get your own personal support if you have any questions. With an individual account, you have a direct messaging system with our Online Teachers, who can keep track of all your progress and history in order to help you resolve any issues that come up.
At the end of the course, we also evaluate each student's mod and give them feedback on it. With their own account, a student can receive personalized feedback on their project so they can continue working on it and improving it.
Not only does each student get support and feedback; with their own account, a student's progress can be tracked, they can earn their own points, and unlock their own bonus content. This allows each student to progress through the course at their own pace and achieve their accomplishments individually throughout the course.
Because we want each student to have the best possible experience, get personalized support and receive individual feedback, we require that only one license be used per student.
We do have all our system requirements posted on our Website, but if you're still unsure after reading through these requirements, you can just click “Contact” on our website, send us a message, and we'd be happy to help figure it out!
In general, though, a good rule of thumb is that if your computer is 5 years old or newer and can successfully run Minecraft® on it, it is unlikely you will encounter any trouble using the course or any of the software.
If for whatever reason you do run into technical trouble, though, we can easily arrange a time with you to remotely access your computer, figure out what’s going on, and get everything up and running.
The software itself can stay on your computer for as long as you want, allowing you to continue working on your project forever. The 1-year limit only applies to a student's access to the online resources, including the instructional videos and support.
Very few students take the entire year to complete the course because they’re so excited to make their mods, but we chose one year's access to give students more than enough time to complete the projects and ask any follow-up questions if they need.
We use this version of Java because it is 100% compatible with all the software that we use for the course. As Java updates, it may become incompatible with the software that the students use to Mod, which is why we install this static, stable version of Java with Mod Design 1.
This version of Java is installed completely independent from any other version of Java you already have on your computer and is only used by the modding-related software, including Minecraft - it is not used by any other application on your computer so it will not affect any other program you use.
Also, if something were ever to happen that made this version of Java incompatible with any of our software, we will just update the version of Java we include in the installation process.
Although we are not using the most up-to-date version of Java, it does not pose any significant risks to your machine. This is so because we install this version completely independent from any other version of Java already installed, which stands alone from all other applications on your computer. The only applications that can access the version of Java we use are the ones for creating our Mods, which are Eclipse and Minecraft.
So although it does not have all the most recent security updates, it is not accessed by other applications, so does not pose a serious security threat.
We are proud to say that we do donate to the open source software we use in our courses, and will continue to do so. We love these programs and are so proud to be educating an entirely new, young user base for these applications. We strive to teach our students professional-level tools that will give them the skills they need for the industry, but will not be cost prohibitive for them in the future, which is why we choose to teach with free software.
Currently, Mod Design 1 is developed only for Windows and Mac. Part of the criteria for Youth Digital’s education programs is that we provide safe and stable working conditions for creation — which is why we’ve implemented a robust backup system. Currently that’s not available for Linux, and when combined with the heavy customization available within Linux, it’s harder for us to ensure that our current product will consistently work with each student’s project as designed.
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Programming for Kids — An Essential Part of STEM Education
Coding, programming and other digital literacy skills teach kids how to think and create with technology.
"The fact is: In today's digital world, technology skills are as important as reading, writing, and arithmetic."
Since 2010, Youth Digital has taught cutting-edge technology skills to more than 40,000 kids worldwide.