Microsoft Launching Minecraft: Education Edition

Back in my day, computers in schools were used for serious learning like making Podd explode. New parents, look at me and be glad that your kids may be learning Minecraft instead. The ubiquitous block ’em up has been in schools for a few years now, in part thanks to programs like MinecraftEdu, which combines a custom version of Minecraft with lesson plans and things. Now Microsoft, who already own Minecraft makers Mojang, have bought up MinecraftEdu and announced plans to release a revised and expanded Minecraft: Education Edition.

First, let’s get past the basic question of what folks can learn from Minecraft. Sample resources including poking at electrical engineering basics with Redstone circuits, touring a recreation of the Temple of Artemis as inspiration for lessons on history, poetry, and architecture, making pixel art with blocks, and playing with explosives while looking at Anderson shelters. Tch, it’s not like my day, when we were held rapt by informative videos.

So! The plan is to create “a new and expanded version of Minecraft for the classroom”. Minecraft: Education Edition will launch this summer, and offer a free trial.

“We’ve seen that Minecraft transcends the differences in teaching and learning styles and education systems around the world,” said Mojang’s COO Vu Bui. “It’s an open space where people can come together and build a lesson around nearly anything.”

Here are some of those learning people and the small ones that have to listen to them:

12 Comments

  1. MrFinnishDude says:

    Some people would probably dismiss Minecraft as a education tool. But think about all the videos that are used for education. The main premise behind those are “Kids like and will pay attention to films, so lets put a lesson in one.” Nowadays kids love and will pay attention to Minecraft, so this is just the next logical step. I think I would have paid more attention to chemistry and memorize different concoctions if they were taught to me as recipes in Minecraft.

  2. Konservenknilch says:

    That’s… pretty cool actually. Let’s see how it pans out.

    Back in my IT class, the only challenge was how to play Doom II without the teacher noticing ;)

    • Distec says:

      The head of IT eventually nabbed me for having GLDoom several folders deep into my user directory. For some reason I thought that was enough to hide anything!

      That said, he was fairly sympathetic. After gently telling me to remove it, he followed up with “If you had to play something, why not a round of Quake?”.

  3. Rikard Peterson says:

    You got informational videos? We got slide shows, with reel-to-reel audio. (This makes me sound older than I am – I’m born in the 70s!)

    “Pogo Pedagog” – does any Swedes reading this remember that?

  4. rexx.sabotage says:

    Was MinecraftEdu a one-off purchase or subscription based service? Microsoft has evidently (and unsurprisingly) made Minecraft: Education Edition the the latter…

    • Premium User Badge

      Serrit says:

      According to the Beeb the old fee was one-off:

      Microsoft intends to charge an annual fee of $5 (£3.50) for each teacher and child.

      That could prove more expensive than the current basic set-up, where schools pay a one-off fee of $14 multiplied by the maximum number of people they want to be able to log in at once, plus an additional $41 for server software.

      • RobF says:

        Yeah, Edu was a one off fee. This is going to cost schools a lot more down the line and rely on them having to trust MS not to screw things up during the subscription period as well.

  5. TheAngriestHobo says:

    First they take our beloved films and spoil them with knowledge. Then they create a whole genre of videogames designed to be educational. Now they’re sticking book learnin’s in games we already know and love? Games that we TRUST?

    Is there anything these bloody teachers won’t ruin!?

  6. Koozer says:

    Teaching basic electronics using redstone? There would be no better way to ensure an entire generation is bereft of electrical engineers. Redstone is bloody awful; fiddly, inconsistent and just a complete pain to work with. Making your own water based gates in Dwarf Fortress is much less frustrating. In fact DF is better for achieving any elaborate feats of engineering. We had to make do with ASCII text adventures in school, these kids can be forced to learn esoteric UTF based UIs until they cry.

    • Buggery says:

      Trying to teach children through Dwarf Fortress sounds like a delightful mess.

      Imagine spending all day trying to get kids to figure out how to do basically anything only to find that there’s an invulnerable deer rampaging about and destroying everything.

      Kids is probably already really in to Minecraft. Taking that basic familiarity and pairing it with a presumably custom designed version where the redstone actually works seems like an interesting idea.

      A better idea would be to keep children in tiny boxes for all their lives, constantly pumping educational missives in through blaring speakers, hopefully producing an entire generation or robo-people.

  7. Harry_Mess says:

    In year 8, a teacher at my school actually approached myself and some friends about Minecraft, and we ended up expanding it and getting it approved as a half-year subject at my high school. It started the following year (2012) and it’s still going!