Minecraft has been a terrific educational tool since it was first created in 2009, and over the years players have added features and mods to make it even better. But Microsoft has taken it up a notch since it purchased Minecraft and created Minecraft: Education Edition. Education Edition has been available for free in an early access version for several months.  It will be officially available for purchase starting November 1 for $5 per user per year, or by school district-wide licenses.

This special edition of Minecraft is aimed at teachers, administrators, and students. You have to have a school email address to buy it.

Since June, more than 35,000 people—teachers, mostly—have participated in the free early-access program. The official launch version of Microsoft: Education Edition will incorporate what’s been learned in the early-access stage. Along with the first wave of educational features, such as collaboration and measurement tools like cameras and student portfolios, the November launch will include:

  • Classroom Mode, an app to help teachers manage the Minecraft learning environment
  • Incorporation of new Minecraft game features such as the latest skins, Redstone functionality, and even horses

Users are encouraged to make suggestions to improve the game. “We’re committed to releasing the highest quality product that is reliable and secure to use in classrooms around the world, and we will continue to improve Minecraft: Education Edition with each release. Please continue to share your suggestions for future features and capabilities at http://aka.ms/meefeedback.”

Teachers will be able to take advantage of lots of help to get started, including “lesson plans, starter worlds, a tutorial experience, and the Minecraft Mentors program, which connects educators with others experienced in teaching with Minecraft.”  There are also resources on the website to help educators use Minecraft to teach such diverse topics as storytelling, poetry, city planning, and geometry.

The website education.minecraft.net is the place to go to find out more and sign up for Minecraft: Education Edition.

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Linda learned to play video games as a way to connect with her teenaged kids, and then she learned to love video games for their own sake. At Pixelkin she wrangles the business & management side of things, writes posts as often as she can, reaches out on the social media, and does the occasional panel or talk. She lives in Seattle, where she writes, studies, plays video games, spends time with her family, consumes vast quantities of science fiction, and looks after her small cockapoo. She loves to hear from people out there. You can read more about her at her website, Linda Breneman.com or her family foundation's website, ludusproject.org.