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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Article 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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  • rainbow_brony
    rainbow_bronyThursday, March 30, 2017 at 7:01 am
    YESSSS they really should make it go to home schooled students as well, it would be AWESOME
    • max243103
      max243103Wednesday, March 29, 2017 at 12:46 pm
      I so hope that Minecraft comes to the US so I could play videogames in school
      • ZanderGaming100Friday, March 24, 2017 at 6:17 am
        i love minecraft i want it at my school
        • ArenThursday, March 23, 2017 at 9:37 am
          I play Minecraft but I want to do it in school! I hope I will soon be able to do this!
          • jo13
            jo13Thursday, March 23, 2017 at 8:40 am
            AWESOME!!!!! #awesome #lol
            • CreeperThursday, March 23, 2017 at 8:14 am
              I think that we should be able to play Mine craft in school because it helps us with area and perimeter and it lets us use our imaginations, it can also help us because it is easier for us to learn in digital way an d to keep us entertained
              • School GamerWednesday, March 22, 2017 at 4:01 pm
                I have this in my school, and we have built our entire school in Minecraft.
                • AwesomeSOSWednesday, March 22, 2017 at 7:57 am
                  Minecraft is epic especially with the education update it is good for schools. I hope it comes to the US by the end of the year 2017.
                  • jhon cenaWednesday, March 22, 2017 at 7:51 am
                    mine-craft is bomb.
                    • keemstarWednesday, March 22, 2017 at 5:43 am
                      lets get right in to the news

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