Microsoft has released a free trial of the new edition of the building game Minecraft, intended for use in schools. The new version of the game includes extra features that make it classroom-friendly, says Microsoft. The company has provided lessons for students in primary, intermediate, and secondary schools that help them develop a variety of skills.
Minecraft in schools is meant to help students develop skills in digital citizenship, empathy, and literacy. The program can be used to study coding, science, city planning, or to get a unique perspective on history. Lessons included in the game include “City Planning for Population Growth,” “Exploring Factors and Multiples,” and “Effects of Deforestation,” as well as several others like lessons on story settings, climate change, and Rube Goldberg machines.
The version just released isn’t the game’s final form, but it should give a good overview of what Minecraft Education has to offer. Teachers can try it out over the summer and begin making lesson plans, and they can offer feedback to Microsoft to improve its performance. The new edition includes a number of suggestions the Minecraft team received from teachers’ experiences in the past, so the game now allows for easier classroom collaboration, non-player characters, and can allow students to snapshot their work.
Teachers can change the program to suit their students’ needs. An electrical engineering teacher could implement rules for the game for an assignment teaching students to hardwire a city’s power grid. How cool is that!
Up to 30 students can play in a world together without needing separate serves. Students can also work in groups or as individuals, but in the future, Microsoft hopes to offer a “Classroom Mode” which will provide a map and list view of all participating students, teleport capabilities, and a chat window.
Minecraft: Education Edition will be available for purchase by schools, libraries, museums, and participants in nationally-recognized home school organizations, says the product’s website. The game will cost between $1 and $5 per user, depending on the size of the organization and what kinds of qualifications it has. Microsoft anticipates that Minecraft: Education Edition will be available this coming September.