Microsoft announces Minecraft: Education Edition


Going to school for many students is a total drag. In some schools, technology lags behind the "real world". Heck, I'm not an old guy, yet I had to learn the 100-year old Dewey Decimal System in elementary school -- something totally worthless nowadays. In other words, my interest in learning was negatively impacted by a lack of excitement and a failure to focus on the future. We kids knew the things we were being taught were dated.

Luckily, children have it much better these days. Between iPads, Chromebooks, and smartphones, everything is at their fingertips. Today, however, Microsoft-owned company, Mojang, announces that it is making education much more exciting with Minecraft: Education Edition. Yes, the wildly popular block-based game is being adapted for learning thanks to the purchase of third-party MinecraftEdu.

"News from a slightly different, arguably smarter, place today. Were announcing Minecraft: Education Edition. Of course, every Minecraft player learns essential life-skills like tree-punching and good Creeper-defence but, when used in the right way, Minecraft can help people around the world to learn lots more", says Owen Hill, Director of Creative Communications, Mojang.

Hill further explains, "it's going to be a collaborative thing. Development of Minecraft: Education Edition will be shaped by a community of educators thanks to The site will host lesson plans and give Minecraft: Education Edition users somewhere to discuss ideas and provide feedback. We know teachers can be a rowdy bunch, so we’re looking into the best ways to moderate the forums as I type. Wish us luck".

Sometimes buying a solution is smarter than building one from scratch. By purchasing MinecraftEdu, Microsoft gets a running start on implementing Minecraft in schools. While it remains to be seen if it will be popular with educators and school executives, it will no doubt be extremely popular with students. If this can get young students more interested in education, more power to it, right?

Well, I can see detractors of this solution saying Minecraft: Education Edition is merely a new way to coddle students. In other words, it could be yet another contributor to lower attention spans. There might be some truth to this, as children need to learn that life isn't always fun.

These students could be in for a rude awakening when they get their first jobs and find there is no Minecraft environment for crunching numbers or analyzing data. Seriously kids, sometimes you must stare at boring screens, such as ugly SharePoint sites and gray Excel sheets.

This will not be a free offering to school districts. With that said, Microsoft will release a free-trial later this year, so educators can try before they buy. Schools that embraced MinecraftEdu prior to the Microsoft purchase will get the first year totally free. Believe it or not, there are schools in 40 countries using the solution.

Is Minecraft: Education Edition a smart tool for students, or merely a new way to coddle them? Tell me in the comments.

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