Today Microsoft announced the official release of Minecraft: Education Edition. This is an early-access release for teachers so they can try it out for free before the wide release in September, just in time for the start of the school year.
Minecraft: Education Edition lets up to 30 students play together in a world with no separate server required. As the students play, they can collect information about what they’re learning by taking screenshots of their projects and putting them in a portfolio.
One cool feature of Education Edition is that teachers can create non-player characters that act as guides. Theses NPCs are capable of providing advice, instructions, and even links to outside references.
And with the chalkboards feature, teachers can write on a virtual chalkboard in the Minecraft world to tell students what they’re supposed to do and challenge them with problems.
“The complete version of Minecraft: Education Edition will be available for purchase in September and will cost between $1 and $5 per user, per year depending on the size of your school and qualification for volume licensing offers,” says the Minecraft Education Team. In order to prepare, teachers should have Windows 10 or OS X El Capitan and an Office 365 Education school account.
The Minecraft: Education Edition Team will be teaching the teachers at ISTE, the big education tech conference being held this year June 26-19 in Denver. There’s also mentoring help and lots of other great resources on the Minecraft: Education Edition website.