Schools will be able to access the building game for $5 per year, per user
The full version of Minecraft: Education Edition will be available on 1 November, opening up the block-based building game to classrooms around the world.
The Education Edition is effectively a reworked version of the main Minecraft game that was set up by a sole Swedish developer and went on to sell 106 million copies and saw the developer company Mojang snapped up by Microsoft for $2.5 billion.
Priced at $5 per user per year and available on Windows 10 and Mac OS X El Capitan, the Education Edition is aimed at encouraging school students to be creative through using the game’s crafting and building mechanics in a virtual world which can be shared with their classmates.
The Education Edition is currently available as a early access version until the start of November, as according to Mojang has seen significant adoption in classrooms.
“Over 35,000 students and educators have participated in this program and provided feedback to help us fine-tune the experience across a diverse set of learning environments, including a STEM summer camp program in New York City and classrooms around the world,” said Mojang.
If the adoption of the Education Edition grows significantly with the full release, Microsoft could see a fresh way to make revenue from the already wildly successful multi-platform game.
Minecraft: Education Edition has a Classroom Mode companion app which teachers can use to interact with the virtual world their students are building in and provide them with virtual resourses as well as teleport students around. It basically gives teachers a way to observe their students without needing to be directly playing in the world.
While children can learn to be more creative in Minecraft, the Education Edition is also being touted by Mojang as a way for them to “learn digital citizenship concepts, clear communication techniques, and inclusive approaches to teamwork to achieve shared goals”.
The company also claims it gives teachers a way to “motivate and inspire every student to achieve more, and ignite a passion for learning”.
“Learning-by-doing in Minecraft teaches students independence and perseverance, giving them great satisfaction and sense of accomplishment when they can demonstrate their knowledge. And because Minecraft: Education Edition is a flexible platform for learning, educators are able to map student activities directly to specific learning outcomes and curriculum standards,” the company added.
This may seem like quite a lofty goal for what is still a computer game, but given how children spend a lot of time interacting with the digital world due to the high availability of smartphones and tablet, at least in first world nations, Microsoft and Mojang’s ambitions for Minecraft in the education sector are not far-fetched.