Minecraft: Education Edition is Teaching More Than Just Math and Science

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Minecraft is a pop culture phenomenon that has over a decade of staying power, which is not an easy feat for most video games. However, it wasn’t until 2016 that Minecraft’s developers, knowing it could make a more significant impact, released a version made for educators.

Mojang saw the game’s potential use in education and teaching and created Minecraft: Education Edition. The game saw high usage during 2020 when schools closed, and many teachers began using the game as a means of virtually connecting with students in a meaningful and engaging way.

What Is Minecraft?

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Minecraft is a sandbox game, meaning that there are no clear tasks or objectives, in which players can build anything they want within the world of the game. It is popular with players of all ages and nationalities.

In the game, players use blocks of materials like dirt, stone, and wood to build anything they can think of. The game also has survival and adventure modes, where players must manage their health and hunger, fight mobs of formidable enemies, and reach The End — home of the enigmatic Endermen. However, many players opt to explore the world and build their own creations in creative mode, where they have unlimited access to all in-game resources.

Minecraft has grown significantly over the years with story-based spin-off games. It’s appropriate for all ages, and its simplicity is one of its major selling points. The customizable and creative nature of the game provides an excellent opportunity for classroom use. 

How Is Minecraft: Education Edition Being Used in Classrooms, Both Physical and Virtual?

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Minecraft: Education Edition is used in classrooms by teachers who want to explore alternative ways of teaching a subject. This is an excellent way to break up lessons using a fun alternative to traditional teaching materials.

In the game, teachers use existing lessons or create their own. For example, a science lesson instructs students to find elements they can craft to form a molecule. Similarly, a math teacher may have a grid where students can plot different objects at given points. Virtual chalkboards can be placed throughout the game to give students notes or instructions.

Students can record their work to facilitate grading at a later time. These recordings can also be used as part of a larger project or even put together at the end of the year as a presentation to show off their work over the year. Minecraft: Education Edition can also be used for social events like graduation.

Because Minecraft: Education Edition is in a virtual space, it became a popular and powerful teaching tool during the pandemic. It allowed students to connect in a world they were familiar with. This was an exciting alternative to other video chat programs, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, which were unsuitable for younger children.

What Lesson Plans Are Available in Minecraft: Education Edition?

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Lessons plans are available in most subjects for all grade levels in Minecraft: Education Edition. Math, language arts, science, art, and history are just a few subjects with available lesson plans. These can be broken down into subcategories, like biological sciences, chemical sciences, and physical sciences.

Rather than using pre-made lessons, teachers can modify lessons to better match what they’re teaching. They can even create custom lessons within Minecraft: Education Edition. Teachers who do redesign lessons within the game can save them to be reused yearly.

How Minecraft: Education Edition Teaches Creativity, Collaboration, and Coding Within Every Lesson

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Minecraft: Education Edition teaches more than just traditional subjects like science and math. The brains behind Minecraft: Education Edition believe that the game is a useful tool to build community, help students develop teamwork and conflict resolution skills, and help teachers to connect with more isolated students. 

Also noteworthy is that Minecraft: Education Edition can teach kids how to use a computer. As technology continues to evolve, there has become an increased need for people who can create computer programs. Minecraft: Education Edition gives kids with an interest in tech a head start by teaching the basics of coding. Although the game is in Java, it can also use other programming languages such as C++ and Python.

Minecraft: Education Edition simplifies the process of learning to code by constructing simple commands, similar to how sentences are created in English classes. Using a block-based coding system, students can then execute commands in the game.

Lessons also encourage students to work together to complete tasks within the world, which improves their social skills. Teachers can use Minecraft: Education Edition to better understand where some students excel and where they struggle based on individualized reports.

Is Minecraft: Education Edition For Everyone? 

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Minecraft: Education Edition is designed for elementary, middle and high schools. However, Minecraft: Education Edition may not be suited for everyone. Some students do better than others when working with computers. 

Even more relevant is that it may not be for all teachers. Minecraft: Education Edition has built-in lesson plans for teachers to use, but these will likely require changes to match their curriculum. Teachers who are not fluent with computers may find Minecraft: Education Edition unsuitable for their classroom.

As a parent, you may want to know if you can purchase Minecraft: Education Edition for your child if it is not offered at their school. Indeed, you can! This is great for home-schooled children as it gives them access to the same resources as traditional school children. It may also prove to be an excellent game for children to play during the summer months. Students can jump ahead to concepts that they’ll be studying in the next school year or use the game to review a concept they did not fully grasp in the previous one.

Subscription Costs

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Minecraft is a paid game, and the education version is no different; however, the payment methods are quite distinct. Minecraft: Education Edition is set up to be purchased per user; that way, a school can purchase licenses for their students.

Prospective users will need a Microsoft Office 365 account to access Minecraft: Education Edition, which many schools will already have. School teachers and administrators will need to pay an additional $5 fee per user. If you want to purchase the program for use outside of a school, either for camps, clubs, or personal use there is a $12 fee per user. 

Remember that subscriptions are only valid for one user and only for that year. Each year, you will need to purchase access to Minecraft: Education Edition again for every student using it.

Data Tracking Concerns with Minecraft: Education Edition

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There is a growing concern about companies tracking the data of users, particularly children. Unfortunately, some companies have not been forthcoming about the types of data they collect, while others have outright lied. 

Microsoft claims they do not collect children’s data except for educational purposes. However, an investigation into Minecraft: Education Edition found that there were data-tracking capabilities within the program. This provided Microsoft’s developers access to information on children’s devices being used to play Minecraft: Education Edition, such as contacts and current location.The data that is being collected is likely encrypted and not tied to a user’s identity. However, many parents and educators expected more privacy and security since Microsoft claimed in its privacy policy that it would not track children’s data. If you plan to purchase Minecraft: Education Edition, thoroughly review the privacy policy before agreeing to it and handing it over to your child or students.

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