Microsoft announces 'Education Edition' of Minecraft

Dive Brief:

  • Microsoft acquired Minecraft for $2.5 billion dollars in 2014, and the tech giant is now revealing its education-oriented plans for the title with the announcement of its own "Minecraft Education Edition," launching this summer.
  • The company has also announced the additional acquisition of the MinecraftEdu learning game, which lets teachers use Minecraft in the classroom alongside a "library of lessons and activities used to teach subjects including STEM," TechCrunch reports.
  • Free trials of the new "Education Edition" are expected to launch as soon as this summer, and according to Microsoft, more than 7,000 classrooms in 40+ countries worldwide are already incorporating the use of Minecraft into curricula. 

Dive Insight:

With a Minecraft tutorial unveiled ahead of this year's Hour of Code event, and Minecraft's education website launched last summer, many education experts likely saw Microsoft's latest move coming. The company's CEO, Satya Nadella, previously pointed to the game's educational potential as one of the reasons for its acquisition, and the website currently offers beginning lessons, forums for educators, and a host of other resources.

Similar to an open-source, crowd-authored wiki page, Minecraft is often described as an open-ended, highly creative "sandbox" for kids. Many have touted its potential benefits in the classroom, ranging from encouraging teamwork to 3-D building models to problem-solving and critical thinking.

Yet there are also critics of its educational value. Last February, the Atlantic published an editorial referring to the game's educational value as a "myth," quoting one expert as saying that it "has about as much inherent educational value as an overhead projector." The article ultimately posits that parents today seek out educational opportunity from practically every activity their children engage in, so they might as well send them outside to play. 

Filed Under: K12 Technology
Top image credit: Globaloria Game Design