Microsoft to release a teachers edition of Minecraft
Microsoft, the owners of the world building game Minecraft, plan to launch a new edition of the game for teachers to use as a learning tool. In 2014, the software giant purchased the development company behind Minecraft for £1.8bn, Mjoang. Late last year they also purchased the four year old MinecraftEdu version of the game.
Boasting additional features for use in the classroom Anthony Salcito, the vice president of Microsoft, said: “teachers are using Minecraft to do so many things, including teaching maths, science, religion and poetry.”
The version has been said, by Microsoft, to improve the experience by the addition of: having characters created by pupils to retain their characteristics between sessions; letting pupils take pictures of their progress using an in game camera feature and store them in an online notebook with other notes. It will also include a feature allowing children to have access to download software that will let them continue playing the educational version outside of school without having to purchase the game.
In order to gain access this version both pupils and staff will require a Office 365 ID, which will allow them to use Microsoft’s online software. The company have stated this will help to lower the number of online accounts they need to manage.
Microsoft’s intended price for the software is a yearly fee of $5 (approximately £3.50) per teacher and pupil.
Why is it newsworthy?
Minecraft is monetarily, and in terms of popularity, the most successful indie game of all time. It’s sold over 22 million copies on PC alone (and even sold over 10 more copies while writing this paragraph) – with millions more owning it on Xbox and tablets.
This is not the first time the ‘mainstream’ media has taken an interest in the game. Due to its unlikely success it generated a lot of media buzz at the time of its heightening popularity in 2010 onwards – getting coverage on the BBC and other major news outlets in the UK. So naturally due to its huge popularity (especially with its younger demographic) this development has been very exciting for many.
This story ties in well with the last story I covered in my previous news diary about the topic of eSports being covered in a school in Norway. Except this time instead of the game being the focus of the lesson it will be used as a learning aid.
This is not a new concept, using a game to educate a class. However, never before has a game as successful as Minecraft created a specific learning tool centered around specifically being a teacher aid. This is a game many children already play at home and enjoy, so bringing it into the school environment may help to positively promote their learning experience.
The entire concept of this comes at a very interesting time, games as a form of media have (as every other form of media has at it’s inception) been consistently criticised and berated by the media. This positive story in using games to benefit people and being brought to light by something so popular it can be understood by the general public and major news outlets (like the BBC and Guardian for example) could possible allow for an evolution in the way people view games as a medium.
Microsoft has said it intends to allow teachers to begin “beta testing” this new edition some point “in the summer” for free prior to its official release.
Good, O. (2016)
Microsoft acquires teachers’ version of Minecraft, will launch Minecraft: Education Edition
Available at: http://www.polygon.com/2016/1/19/10789532/minecraftedu-teachers-edition-minecraft-microsoft-education-edition (Accessed: 24th January 2016)
Minecraft Education Edition. [ONLINE]
Available at:http://education.minecraft.net/announce011916/. (Accessed 24 January 2016).
Stewart, K (2016)
Minecraft Education Edition: why it’s important for every fan of the game.
Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jan/22/minecraft-education-edition-why-its-important-for-every-fan-of-the-game. (Accessed 24 January 2016).
Kelion, L. (2016)
Minecraft to launch education edition.
Available at:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-35341528. [Accessed 24 January 2016].