Education Edition of Minecraft on Track for Summer Release
- By Dian Schaffhauser
Microsoft is on track to deliver its Minecraft: Education Edition this summer with an "early access" program that will let any teacher download the open world game. However, those teachers will need to be running either Windows 10 or OS X El Capitan (at least in early days) and have an Office 365 Education account.
The company acquired this education-specific version of the game earlier this year from TeacherGaming.
The education edition, which will be available at this site, will include lesson plans and a Minecraft mentoring program to match up teachers new to the game with those who have experience in using it in a classroom setting. Starter lessons are already available there for the current edition of Minecraft.
Starting in May, Microsoft will host a beta program with participation from 100 schools worldwide to generate feedback on the product. A month later the early access program will open. The company said the software would be available in 11 languages. Lesson plans are expected to be developed over the summer, including creation of reusable projects.
Feedback has already poured in from teachers who have used Minecraft in their classrooms.
"As an English teacher using Minecraft for storytelling, one of my main challenges was how to evidence student learning and projects outside of the game," Simon Baddeley, an English teacher in Wakefield, England, told Microsoft. "The new camera and portfolio tools are going to be great features, allowing students to be able to export these shots directly from the students' portfolio into a specified OneDrive folder is a major step forward and allows much easier integration with other applications."
Rafranz Davis, director of professional and digital learning at Lufkin Independent School District in Texas, advised the company "to make sure there was a beginner on-ramp experience for teachers who are new to Minecraft, to help them learn to play the game."
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.