Minecraft, the hit kids’ video game, has been the opposite of a flash in the plan. Since launching in 2011, Minecraft has attracted more than 100 million users, and kids well into their teens are still playing the game after getting started at 7, 8 or 9 years old. Minecraft users employ available digital tools to build their own “world” so the game is actually more like a Lego set than a traditional video game. As such, it might remain popular for a very long while without having to release new versions.
Microsoft acquired the platform in 2014, probably because a couple of things were becoming obvious:
- Minecraft, a huge hit with kids of all ages, is a safer, more wholesome alternative to games featuring adult themes including violence, gore and sexual imagery
- More than just a game, Minecraft is a great educational tool
Now Microsoft has announced that it is bringing a version of the game to schools. Minecraft Education Edition is optimized for teachers and students, and will be available beginning in June.
This isn’t Microsoft/Minecraft’s first foray into the classroom. Last November, Microsoft introduced a coding tutorial for kids in conjunction with Code.org.
Microsoft Education will offer a free and a paid version according to an article at Venture Beat. The free version will reportedly be close to what is currently available, but the new paid version will allow a whole class – up to 40 kids – to play in the same Minecraft world at the same time. Teachers will have access to lesson plans and a mentoring community. The mentoring program will enable teachers who are familiar with the program to collaborate with new teacher users.
It’s an ideal situation when a game that kids actually like playing can be a valuable tool in the classroom. Engagement can be instantaneous and very sticky. Well done, Microsoft.
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