Minecraft May Finally Be Coming To US Schools

By Kim Bussing on September 11, 2016

CCSS NCSS-7 Word Search
Photo Credit: Minecraft: Education Edition

Shortly before the school year ended in June, 1,700 American kids got to do what most students can only dream of — play video games in class. No, the 100 educators that allowed this were not slacking off. They were helping Microsoft beta test a new Minecraft Education Edition, which the company plans to offer to schools across the globe within the next few weeks.

While the computer game, which challenges kids to use their imagination by building futuristic virtual worlds, has been offered in Swedish schools since 2013, it has not been widely embraced by educators elsewhere. But project director Deirdre Quarnstrom believes that this new education version, where students get to create their own stories and games, will be a huge success with both student and teachers.

Photo Credit: education.minecraft.net

Of course, the classroom version will have some differences from the traditional game you might play at home. Non-player characters, placed into the game by teachers, will provide guidance and narration, while a chalkboard will allow them to write instructions. A control panel called Classroom Mode will enable educators to grant students access to resources, monitor their location, send messages, and even teleport students to the right place should they wander off or get lost. Teachers unfamiliar with the game can select from numerous pre-created immersive lesson plans that range from exploring the Temple of Artemis to modeling biodiversity loss.

For educators concerned that bringing video games into the classroom might reduce classroom collaboration, there is a multi-player mode. Using this, students can enter other’s games and help their peers solve an issue they may be struggling with or test out new ideas.

Photo Credit: education.minecraft.net

However, while these features add more structure and allow teachers to give specific assignments, students still have complete freedom to use their imagination and creativity to program a game based on their interest, whether it’s a science-fiction movie or their favorite fantasy series. Quarnstrom says Microsoft has kept the game “pure” to ensure kids (aged 5 and above) have an authentic Minecraft experience." The director believes that "a lot of what creates that kind of magical educational experience is the no-rules sandbox environment. Students really feel inspired to keep going and set up their own challenges, which is exactly what educators want to see."

The students and teachers fortunate to be selected for the June beta test seem to agree. 13-year-old Elena Rezac, who built a quest-driven maze inspired by the science fiction movie,"The Maze Runner,” says that the game is “lots of fun because you can do whatever you want." Her teacher, Steve Isaacs, approves of the game because it encourages students to be inventive. The educator says that the game’s varied choices allow every kid to find an area where he/she can succeed.

Photo Credit: education.minecraft.net

The Minecraft Education Edition that is expected to cost between $1 to $5 a student, will be launched sometime this month. Meanwhile, educators can introduce gaming to their classrooms by signing up for the beta version. While it doesn’t have all the features of the final product, it is a good way how students engage with this popular video game, without paying a dime.

Resources: Fastcompany.com,the verge.com,cnnmoney.com

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VocabularyPlay Game


Reading Comprehension (7 questions)

  1. Why did some teachers allow kids to play Minecraft in class this June?
  2. Where has Minecraft been offered since 2013?

Critical Thinking Challenge

Should Minecraft be introduced as a mandatory subject or an...

Vocabulary in Context

The educator says that the game’s varied choice allows every kid to find an area where he/she can succeed.

In the above sentence, the word varied, most likely means:

(a) showing...

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  • boonana
    boonanaTuesday, August 22, 2017 at 1:51 am
    Mandatory subject? Eh. In my opinion minecraft shouldn't become a subject. How educational is it REALLY? like okay sure, I know there's ways to learn from it but there's probably a lot of problems that come with it. Minecraft ain't gonna help you learn survival skills really, and Minecraft ain't gonna be a better substitute for the classroom and real life. The game 'encouraging you to be creative' just will not work. To me it seems like an excuse for relaxing where you should be learning. The only times I can see this Minecraft feature used in school is in a computer class or maybe some sort of art. 'Minecraft' is not a subject, full stop. Case closed. Although it isn't a subject, I wouldn't mind too much if it became a study for, again, an ICT/computer class. Computer class, not Minecraft class. Reading the comments, everyone is saying "aw yeah Minecraft! woo! come to my school, Minecraft!". Still, in my (not-so) humble opinion, an excuse for getting out of so-called 'real' work and real life.
    • jjrichardson
      jjrichardsonMonday, August 21, 2017 at 2:04 pm
      Why not Australia????????Minecraft is so cool but it needs to comes to Australian school. Or just Queensland! The is an outrage! I want Queensland to do the same!
      • booThursday, August 17, 2017 at 12:03 pm
        • SSunday, August 13, 2017 at 3:46 pm
          come to US education minecraft
          • IceWolfieMCThursday, August 3, 2017 at 12:13 am
            I really love how you get to express your feelings in one giant sketch world with your friends, I hope it comes to our schools.
            • sampath
              Mr. PereraThursday, July 6, 2017 at 9:28 am
              Minecraft is a very good game. It makes our minds more creative. Minecraft is a block world game which we have to use materials given and make houses etc.. Survival mode makes minecraft much fun. In survival mode zombies come hunting us and we have to survive them by making shelters. I have also played Minecraft in survival mode. I favorite character is Steve. Creative mode is also a mode in minecraft. In creative mode we have to make houses with the materials in the menu. There are lots of materials in the creative mode than the survival mode. In the survival mode we have to explore wood and find materials. In minecraft we can play multiplayer, can go to other player worlds. Minecraft is fun when you play but after some time it gets boring and lame. Mods are even there for the Minecraft ex: Herobrine manison, Airport, Manhattan etc. Minecraft storymode is also getting released to the globe. It is also a fun game. It was sponsored by Teltele Games. The main characters in minecraft are Ruben, Jessie, Axio, Petra etc.. that's all I can remember.
              • IceReaderMonday, July 3, 2017 at 4:52 am
                Minecraft is the best I wish it was in my school
                • Joe Thursday, June 29, 2017 at 8:00 pm
                  Minecraft is very cool
                  • smishball123
                    smishball123Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at 7:12 pm
                    cmon let us play too! :)
                    • madmaxThursday, June 15, 2017 at 3:13 pm
                      bro i wish we had mincraft

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