Minecraft on Xbox. Minecraft in your hair. Minecraft in schools. It’s everywhere, and that last is the goal of Minecraft: Education Edition, a version of the world’s most popular videogame designed specifically for use in classrooms. It’s for teaching kids – and older – about anything from ancient history with painstakingly recreated buildings and locations to programming with Redstone.
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It’s an expansion on and buyout by Microsoft of the MinecraftEdu program that has existed since 2011. They’ve even made a trailer explaining all the ways it can and has helped:
It’s a brilliant initiative, obviously. I would have slaughtered millions to have something anywhere near as interesting or videogame-like as Minecraft used as a learning tool in school, at any age. I’d still prefer it if the PCGN style guide and policy documents were taught to me via the medium of blocks instead of awful words. The key, as always, is to get people interested in the way they’re learning so they actively enjoy it and take it in.
There’s a lengthy FAQ with some more details, including how much it will cost. It’s sitting at $5 per user per year, which doesn’t sound like that much until you consider the size of a lot of schools, especially American ones, and how broad the applications of this could be. I’d hardly expect Microsoft to give it away for free, but given absolutely all of these kids are doubtless going to be hooked once they’ve spent a bit of time with it in class, it’s not like there are no upsides.
It’s not just schools that will have access though, with libraries and museums able to buy copies to do as they will. There’s a tonne of custom-made resources already becoming available, with more planned if it does well. That two billion dollars is looking quite well spent if things continue down this path.