STEM

Microsoft, Code.org Use Minecraft to Teach Coding

Microsoft and Code.org have come together to debut Minecraft Designer, a free tutorial for students aged 6 and up that uses the Minecraft environment to teach coding.

Minecraft Designer is a free, hour-long, interactive online tutorial (with offline capabilities for those who want to work when they don't have access to the Internet) that teaches basic coding in Minecraft and, perhaps more importantly, is designed to inspire interest in computer science, particularly among groups that might not traditionally pursue CS.

According to Microsoft: "With the immense popularity of Minecraft around the world, Microsoft and Code.org believe the tutorial has the potential to reach people of all ages and likeness. Women and girls already compose nearly half of the game's global fan base. The tutorial also underscores Microsoft's commitment to ensuring all young people have the opportunity to learn computer science, an economic and social imperative in this era of digital transformation, which is expected to generate 1.4 million computing jobs in the U.S. alone by 2020 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the U.S., 40 percent of schools do not teach computer science, and Microsoft aims to reach students most likely to be among those without access, particularly girls and minorities."

The tutorial was developed for Hour of Code as part of Microsoft's activities that will coincide with Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 5–11). (It's a followup to a tutorial released last year that reached some 30 million people, according to Microsoft.) Microsoft will also be hosting live coding events in its retail stores. (Student sign-ups for the live events can be found on Microsoft's site.)

Microsoft, Code.org Use Minecraft to Teach Coding 

Hour of Code is a broad-based movement aimed at providing instruction in coding in the form of one-hour tutorials that cover a wide range of programming languages, from python and JavaScript to Swift, Lua and CoffeeScript.

"The 2016 Minecraft Hour of Code tutorial builds on the success of the original in a great way," said Mike Harvey, technology teacher from Falmouth, Maine, in a prepared statement. "By programming familiar game events themselves, learners will be able to experience computer science in a way that is authentic as well as fun. The open-ended challenges help to show that our favorite games (like 'Minecraft') are ultimately created with code."

Minecraft Designer is freely available now in both online and offline versions. Further details can be found at code.org/minecraft. Additional Hour of Code tutorials can be found at code.org/learn.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).


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