Virginia Carpenter, Aleta McFarland, and their Powell County Middle School 7th-grade students explored MinecraftEdu educational gaming at KET’s Media Lab recently. All of the students attending play the Minecraft game — some on pcs, some on smartphones, some on game consoles, and some on all platforms available.
Minecraft is a popular game for building virtual objects and environments out of blocks of materials gathered and mined within the game itself. It has been used successfully by many enthusiastic teachers worldwide to support the teaching of a variety of subjects, especially STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math).
MinecraftEdu adds teacher control, class facilitation, and project building features to the already popular original version of the game played by millions: teachers can easily create or adapt other teachers’ project world environments for students that restrict them to certain areas with particular resources for accomplishing individual and group tasks; they can move students from place to place in the world, and students can be given building and movement privileges and can be “frozen” if necessary; teacher-built game environments can include in-game instruction signs and links to web content that pops-up in a separate browser window; and much, much more. Part of the newest version of the game is ComputerCraftEdu, a modification that adds tools for creating computer coding projects for students to build and run from within the MinecraftEdu program.
Big news is that MinecraftEdu has been purchased by Microsoft, who will be publishing its own classroom-aimed version of the game during the summer of 2016: Minecraft Education Edition (more on that below).
KET’s introductory workshop in using the MinecraftEdu program gave the visiting students and their teachers an opportunity to try the program out in a classroom/lab setting before purchasing the program as a school resource. Powell County’s middle school students quickly ran through the built-in tutorial world map, designed to acquaint players with the basic game skills of navigation and of mining materials for crafting items required in classroom construction activities.
After the tutorial world map was played, KET’s Jeff Gray selected a teacher-built world map, The Wonderful World of Humanities, designed to supplement the teaching of humanities studies. That was even more fun for the students, who for the workshop explored the vast area that recreates major buildings and features of earlier civilizations including Rome, Greece, Mesopotamia, and more. Students in the teacher-built world can interact with famous characters in each area, and completing in-game quizzes rewards students with special accomplishments such as being able to take off from a tower on a flying dragon to ride around the game world.
Other maps built by teachers to supplement the teaching of a variety of subjects are available for free download from within the game from the MinecraftEdu World Library.
Again, the big development is that MinecraftEdu has been purchased by Microsoft, the owner of the original Minecraft game. Microsoft will offer a new version of the game called Minecraft Education Edition, available by subscription for Kentucky public, private, and homeschools the summer of 2016. Microsoft’s new Minecraft Education Edition version of the game will incorporate many of the teacher facilitator features of the current MinecraftEdu game version and add more of Microsoft’s own design such as individual student portfolios.
Those who have already purchased MinecraftEdu will be able to use the new Minecraft Education Edition software for a year. Microsoft’s current plan is to charge schools subscription rates at $5.00 per student or educator per year.
See more information about the new game for schools in this previous
Minecraft Education Edition blog post.
If you’d like to bring public, private, or homeschool students to KET for a free
KET Media Lab multimedia production workshop and a tour of KET, please contact
Jeff Gray, KET Education Division.