Microsoft has done a very smart thing and purchased MinecraftEdu, a company which adapts Minecraft for the classroom. Together, they will release a new version of Minecraft called Minecraft: Educational Edition, with added features designed specifically for teachers.
The Minecraft educational community grew out of kids’ obsession with the game. Harnessing their creativity has provided many rewarding classroom experiences. And Minecraft’s simplicity makes it the perfect candidate for mods.
MinecraftEdu grew out of a small game development company called TeacherGaming. With Mojang’s support, they have been making mods and lessons based on Minecraft for years. They also streamline the process of buying classroom copies of Minecraft and giving teachers the organizational and administrative tools they need to teach lessons in the game.
If you already have a MinecraftEdu license, you will be able to keep using it indefinitely. The new Minecraft: Educational Edition will also be free for a year for license holders. And of course, the licenses will still be available up until the Educational Edition is officially released.
The official Educational Edition of Minecraft will have built-in lesson plans, enhanced maps for navigating the enormous game world, a portfolio feature for keeping track of student creations, enhanced multiplayer that allows for up to 40 students to work together, personalized avatars and login info so teachers can keep track of students better, and world import and export so teachers can create and save levels more easily for future lessons.
Teachers can connect on the Minecraft Mentors page to collaborate and share their ideas.
Right now the plan is to sell Minecraft: Educational Edition for $5 per user per year, though group discounts are available. Only educators will be able to purchase the new edition, though parents who want to learn more are encouraged to check out their website for resources. You can learn more on their FAQ page.
A free trial will be available when it comes out this summer.
“In education, we are constantly seeking pathways to explore learning beyond the confines of a textbook,”explained Rafranz Davis, Executive Director of Professional Development and Learning, Lufkin ISD. “When we see our kids enjoying the process of learning in this way, it’s a game changer.”