Microsoft participated in a Minecraft coding effort last year as part of the annual Hour of Code campaign from Code.org. Now, the Seattle-based software company has acquired MinecraftEdu, a firm that makes a version of the popular video game modified for the classroom, and is planning the launch of Minecraft Education Edition for the summer.
The MinecraftEdu version includes additions that make the original game more appropriate for a K-12 setting. It features a multiplayer mode for up to 40 students and offers a cloud-based system to host Minecraft classroom servers with a library of lessons and activities.
In addition, the Learning Tools add-on provides teachers special text-formatting options that make reading, writing, and note-taking easier. Other features include reading with audiotext playback and natural-language processing, according to a report in InformationWeek.
Microsoft plans to keep the user price at $5 per year, but will make a free trial version of the software available this summer, according to VentureBeat.
“One of the reasons Minecraft fits so well in the classroom is because it’s a common, creative playground,” said Vu Bui, chief operating officer of Mojang, a game-based development firm that created Minecraft and was acquired by Microsoft in 2014, in a report for eSchool News. “We’ve seen that Minecraft transcends the differences in teaching and learning styles of education systems around the world. It’s an open space where people can come together and build a lesson around nearly anything.”