Minecraft is a world of its own, literally, where you can immerse yourself in virtual environments and construct pretty much anything you can imagine. Hell, you can even build an exact replica of Westeros if you wish.
Researchers have seen the potential for Minecraft to help with learning, development and problem solving skills. Microsoft saw the potential of bringing the joys of construction and engineering into more classrooms, and consulted with over 2000 students and teachers around the world to develop Minecraft: Education Edition. An early access version of this open world game is now available for all educators to trial for free.
The features of Education Edition focus upon the learning experience and collaboration. Up to 30 students are able to learn and play together in the same world, and share their progress through an in-game camera enabling students to create their own portfolio of Minecraft greatness. Or they can just create hordes of chickens, either way they will have fun. All users of the game log in using individual Microsoft Office 365 Education accounts to ensure data privacy and security.
Sample worlds and lessons help teachers get the hang of creating learning activities, such as “City Planning for Population Growth”, “Exploring factors and multiples”, and “Effects of deforestation”. They are then able to create their own Non-Player Character (NPC) to act as a guide inside the game, and use in-game ‘chalkboards’ to give instructions and set tasks and challenges for the students.
Minecraft: Education Edition is currently available for free as a trial for educational institutions worldwide, and will be available for purchase in September at a price between $1 – 5 USD per user, per year depending on the size of the school and volume licensing.
Whoever said learning can’t be fun?