What is Minecraft: Education Edition?
For Minecraft: Education Edition to boost online engagement, here’s what every teacher should know
Minecraft: Education Edition is a learning-specific version of this very popular block-based game. So while students will be attracted to the game anyway, teachers can also use the controls to help educate them as they interact with the virtual world.
Minecraft: Education Edition works well both in the classroom and remotely. Let students go on a virtual field trip through space and time. Or have groups work collaboratively on a project, regardless of where they are.
Minecraft: Education Edition is good for any age student and covers all grade levels. Many colleges have used Minecraft to offer virtual tours and even orientation groups, and during remote learning times, to help new students integrate virtually.
So what’s the catch? Minecraft: Education Edition isn’t free, but more on that below. Then you can decide if this near limitless virtual world is worth the investment.
Here’s everything you need to know about Minecraft: Education Edition for teachers.
What is Minecraft: Education Edition?
Minecraft uses block-based graphics and virtual design controls. It allows players to create virtual worlds in which they can freely roam as characters.
Although there are many subgames available, we’ll just focus on the Education Edition offerings.
What the Minecraft: Education Edition does, over the regular version, is offer special features for teachers that allow them to control the virtual world their students are using. This makes it safe, lets the teacher keep students focused on a task, and creates communication options.
There are many platforms on which the game runs, including laptops, desktops, Chromebooks, and tablets. It is a great option for providing a virtual environment that isn’t taxing on a network connection – making it highly inclusive.
What’s Good About Minecraft: Education Edition for Students?
Game-based learning continues to be a very popular teaching tool, and with good reason. The gaming nature makes it immediately appealing and engaging for students, especially for Minecraft, which is played by children worldwide, with the Education Edition played in more than 115 countries.
Students can work individually or collaboratively on problem-solving lessons using the game, which builds project-based skills. The result is STEM learning in an environment that helps build digital citizenship as well as confidence in the real world.
As a result, students can take a screenshot and send it to the teacher for assessment at any time during or after the project. It is also a nice way for students to build a portfolio of their completed work.
A Code Builder mode allows students to even learn how to code while playing the game. Students can use code as a way to experiment with introductory chemistry and offers an underwater biome for the exploration of oceanography.
Why is Minecraft: Education Edition Good for Teachers?
With Minecraft: Education Edition, teachers are able to enjoy the benefits of being in a community with other teachers. There’s plenty available from participating in discussion boards to collaborating with other schools.
There are numerous tools on the website to assist teachers in navigating the platform. There are videos and lesson plans available, some of which are downloadable worlds that can be used as templates to create lessons. The platform also offers connections to mentors, trainers, and other educators.
The Classroom mode allows teachers to see a virtual world map, allowing them to zoom in and out to interact with each student. They can also move a student avatar back to where they should be, if they end up wandering.
As in the real world, teachers can even use chalkboards to display assignments and objectives to students. Teachers can even create non-playable characters that work like guides, linking students from one task to the next.
What Does Minecraft: Education Edition Cost?
While the thought of an endless world supported by plenty of education-focused tools that students actually want to engage with sounds expensive, it’s actually not.
Minecraft: Education Edition offers two different pricing systems:
– For a small, single class school there is a $5 per user per year charge.
– For larger schools of more than 100 students, with multiple classrooms using the game, there is volume licensing available from Microsoft. This comes as part of the Microsoft Enrollment for Education Solutions program, and the prices will vary depending on the size of school and the plan chosen.
Of course on top of that, hardware needs to be taken into consideration. Many laptops, desktops, and tablets are capable of running Minecraft. A minimum requirement for the full computer versions are Windows 10, macOS or iOS for tablets, and Chrome OS for Chromebooks.
Get started by downloading Minecraft: Education Edition here.
Minecraft Java vs. Minecraft Bedrock: What’s the difference?
There are two versions of Minecraft, which are sold separately and are not interchangeable. So which should you go for? The original, Minecraft Java, is available through the company’s website and is for PC only. Minecraft Bedrock edition, however, is accessible through mobile devices, consoles, and the Microsoft Store; it works on all of them and Windows 10.
The key is to make sure you have the same version your students have so that you can collaborate together online. Hardcore mode, in which you can’t respawn when you die, isn’t available in Bedrock, and neither is Spectator, which lets you fly around to view the world.
If it’s your first time buying the game, it’s worth noting that the Java edition has more mods for free than Bedrock, which has many paid content add-ons. Bedrock is better for cross-platform gameplay and generally runs a little smoother.