Using Minecraft to teach children is set to become easier after Microsoft released a new version of the block-building computer game.
Minecraft: Education Edition can be downloaded by teachers across the world and used free of charge this summer.
The latest version of the game has been developed based on feedback from teachers, with unique features designed to boost learning.
Easy classroom collaboration
One of the most common requests from teachers was the ability for students to collaborate to build projects and solve problems within Minecraft. In the Education Edition, an entire classroom of up to 30 students can play together in one world without the need for a separate server. Alternatively, students can work together in pairs or groups simply by joining their classmates’ worlds.
Camera and portfolio
Minecraft: Education Edition allows teachers to collect evidence of learning in the game and see student progression. The camera and portfolio features let students to take screenshots of their work and document the development of their projects.
A teacher may create a non-player character (NPC) to act as a guide for students in the game. This guide can give instructions, provide more information or allow teachers to insert an active web link to additional references.
Similar to an NPC, teachers can use chalkboards within the game to communicate learning goals, provide information, give instructions or challenge students with problems to solve within the game. Chalkboards come in three different sizes – Slate (1×1), Poster (2×1), and Board (2×3) and can be placed either on the ground or mounted on a vertical surface.
Simple, secure sign-in
Individual student and teacher logins help identify each player in the game, and ensure data privacy and security while playing Minecraft: Education Edition. Single sign-on (SSO) capabilities are supported, so no additional passwords or accounts are required.
Microsoft is also working on a host of other features, including a Classroom Mode interface for teachers that provides a map and list view of all their students, teleport capabilities and a chat window for communication. Teachers can offer suggestions for future features at http://aka.ms/meefeedback.
Microsoft is also releasing updated lesson starters and starter worlds to help teachers using Minecraft: Education Edition get started quickly. Sample lessons are available for different subjects and age levels, and include learning objectives, activities, suggested reflection questions and evidence of learning criteria. Example lessons include City Planning for Population Growth, Exploring Factors and Multiples and Effects of Deforestation. Visit education.minecraft.net/resources to download lessons or submit lesson ideas.
The complete version of Minecraft: Education Edition will be available for purchase in September. To start using Minecraft: Education Edition early access:
- Upgrade your computer to Windows 10 or OS X El Capitan
- Sign up for a free Office 365 Education account using your school email address
- Download Minecraft: Education Edition and start playing
Microsoft, along with game-based learning educators at ISTE, will be hosting training sessions on Minecraft: Education Edition.
Minecraft is one of the popular computer games of all time, with more than 106 million copies sold to date – including four to people in Antarctica. Since the beginning of 2016, more than 53,000 copies have been sold every day. More than 40 million people play Minecraft every month.