How do you make school more interesting for kids? Perhaps by introducing Minecraft to classrooms.
In January, Microsoft announced that it was creating a Minecraft: Education Edition that would allow students to engage with lessons through the game. Today, the software is available to all schools for free beta testing before its September public launch date. The game was previously only being tested in 100 schools, but that version had fewer features and was more similar to the original Minecraft game.
Minecraft: Education Edition’s new functions include a camera application that takes screenshots of the game, a portfolio that students can create from game screenshots, chalkboards that let teachers write instructions, a collaboration mode that allows up to 30 students to join a virtual world and other characters that give students guidance throughout the game. It also comes with pre-installed lessons on common topics like biodiversity loss and population growth.
Before the public launch in September, Microsoft is testing other features to add, such as a classroom interface that will let teachers see their students’ characters and visit them on a map and chat with them in the game. In September, a complete version will be available for schools to purchase for $1 to $5 per student, per year.