Microsoft has just released an early access version of the highly anticipated Minecraft Education Edition for teachers. The company will officially launch the game as a subscription service for $1-$5 in September, for now teachers can try it out for free.
Minecraft Education Edition is just like its predecessor MinecraftEdu, but it includes a wide array of additional features especially designed for the classroom.
Prior to the early access version, the company launched a beta version of Minecraft Education Edition with participation from more than 100 schools and 1700 student.
Microsoft mentioned in a blog post that one of the most common requirements they received from teachers to fine-tune the service is the ability to collaborate students together in order to build projects and solve problems.
Microsoft says with Minecraft Education Edition, a classroom of up to 30 students can participate together and they can work in pairs or groups.
Microsoft says that the “important aspect of Minecraft in education is being able to collect evidence of learning in the game, and being able to demonstrate student progression”.
The game boasts various camera and portfolio features allowing students to capture screenshots of their work and document the progress of their projects.
Meanwhile, teachers can create other non-player characters to help students via the game in order to provide instructions and to insert links to further resources.
Microsoft says the company is still working on a couple of other features that beta participants have asked for.
Minecraft team said,
“We’re continuing to work on a whole host of other features that the community has told us are important, including a Classroom Mode interface for educators with a map and list view of all their students, teleport capabilities, and a chat window for communication.”
The early-access edition is not yet a completed version. The company has made it available to users for the testing purpose. Besides the free trial version of Minecraft Education Edition, Microsoft has also released some updated lesson starters to help teachers start the fun.‘City planning for Population Growth’ and ‘Effects of deforestation’ are some of them.The lessons also include various activities, learning objectives, recommended questions and evidence of learning criteria.
For now, teachers can explore the education-focused version of the game in advance of its September release. Once the company officially release the game in September, schools and districts will be able to use it only after purchasing annual licenses.
Microsoft says till now over 100mn copies of Microsoft Education Edition have been sold which makes it the second most-liked game after Tetris.
To start off, teachers requires a free Office 365 Education account. Microsoft Education Edition works only with Windows 10 or OS X EL Capitan.
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