Microsoft has acquired a modified version of Minecraft for use in schools, known as “MinecraftEdu”, from Finland-based TeacherGaming LLC.
The tech giant plans on investing in a new and expanded version of Minecraft for the classroom called Minecraft: Education Edition. It will be designed specifically for classroom use and give teachers the tools they need to use Minecraft on an everyday basis.
MinecraftEdu, which was formed in 2011, has already reached thousands of classrooms in more than 40 countries around the world, allowing educators and students to teach and learn through “building and exploring within a fun, familiar environment.”
The game has been used to teach various subjects, including history, language arts and science.
An announcement on the official MinecraftEdu website said:
“Since 2011, MinecraftEDU from TeacherGaming LLC from Finland – a version of Minecraft built especially for the classroom – has reached thousands of classrooms in more than 40 countries around the world, all reporting wild success. We don’t want to stop there. We believe this is just the beginning.
“Today, we’re excited to announce Microsoft is acquiring MinecraftEdu and investing in a new and expanded version of Minecraft for the classroom called Minecraft: Education Edition. This new title – available as a free trial this summer – will build on the learnings from MinecraftEdu while offering an expanded set of features. And in support of MinecraftEdu customers, they can continue to use MinecraftEdu and we will offer the first year of Minecraft: Education Edition for free.”
What will the upcoming ‘Minecraft: Education Edition’ offer?
MinecraftEdu already provides products and services that make it easy for educators to use Minecraft in the classroom, offering a cloud-based solution for hosting Minecraft classroom servers so students and teachers can connect and play together.
Microsoft promises to improve the experience by offering new, enhanced features such as a student portfolio, a new login system to provide more customizability and personalization, and the ability for students to take “photos” of their progress via an in-game camera.
Microsoft plans on charging an annual fee of $5 (£3.50) for each teacher and child.
“We believe we are bringing added value,” said Deirdre Quarnstrom, director of Minecraft education.
“On top of having a persistent identity, they will also have access to the most current version of the game.
“MinecraftEdu, along with other Minecraft mods, was one to two releases behind by nature of the development process.
“We are also replacing the need for schools to have and maintain separate server hardware.”
Video of a teacher using MinecraftEdu for educational purposes
Joel Levin, a school technology integrator, works with second graders at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School in New York City. Through his use of MinecraftEDU, a version of the popular commercial game Minecraft modified for educational purposes, Joel leads his 2nd grade class through structured game-based scenarios that emphasis self-directed learning, collaboration between students, and positive social interactions.