Minecraft Education Edition: the new learn-to-code platform by Microsoft

How can a videogame let students learn how to code? The education platform for learning Minecraft: Education Edition can motivate and inspire every student to achieve more, and ignite a true passion for learning. The new extension Code Builder – released in May 2017 – shall inspire students even more.

We already wrote about the benefits of gaming in schools in a previous article, stating that educational video games and simulators teach many technical skills such as algebra, biology, computer programming and flight training. The most important thing, though, is that simulation games develop children’s soft skills, such as sense of self esteem, socialization skills, leadership, team building and problem solving. That is true also in the case of Minecraft: Education Edition, for students at every step of their school career: let’s see its features and its benefits, discovering in the end the newest extension Code Builder.

What is Minecraft, and why does this game fit well with classroom use?

What is Minecraft? Minecraft is a game about placing blocks and going on adventures, created by Swedish game designer Markus Persson and released for the first time in 2011 by Mojang AB and Microsoft Studios. Minecraft has many aspects intrinsecally helping students and young people to develop many skills: starting from creativity to building, the videogame also ignites activities such as exploration and resource gathering.

How Minecraft: Education Edition works in classrooms

This is why on November 1, 2016, was released Minecraft: Education Edition, an educational version of Minecraft specifically designed for classroom use. The Education Edition has many features that make Minecraft highly accessible to an easy and effective usage in classrooms. At a glance, with Minecraft: Education Edition teachers and students can:

  • Collaborate on projects with classmates
  • Document their work and share it in class
  • Personalize their game
  • Effectively communicate learning objectives while playing
  • Play in a secure environment along with the classroom community
  • Ask helpful guides for more information, including additional digital resources.

One of the most important benefits of Minecraft is the easy classroom collaboration, through which students can collaborate together to build projects and solve problems. It is possible for classrooms up to 30 students to play together in a specific world, and they can be paired up or join groups.

Teachers have a fundamental role in the gameplay: an educator has the possibility to act as a guide for students while playing. Teachers can give guidance and instructions, provide more information and even insert web links to let students know more and have access to additional references. Teachers can manipulate the game also by entering and leaving a specific area with the usage of “border blocks”, and they can decide where students can or cannot build with “allow” and “deny” blocks.

Educators can also collect evidence of learning in the game, and are able to track students progression. With the “Camera” feature students can take screenshots of their work and document the development of their projects. There is also the possibility to communicate via chat, monitor the chat where students communicate, and turn off and on some world settings, so the game can perfectly fit the Classroom mode.
Minecraft: Education Edition is an open-world game that promotes creativity, collaboration and problem-solving in an immersive environment.

The only limit for students is imagination. With Minecraft educators can encourage students to develop 21st century skills. The core of these skills are called the “7Cs” for students: they are all equally important for the modern society and they represent what universities and companies will be asking within the few next years. These are:

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking
  • Character
  • Citizenship
  • Computational thinking

According to Minecraft Mentor Benjamin Kelly, the development of these skills is now more important than ever. For example, the development of empathy is key to understanding social changes and innovation for decades to come.

A new learn to code platform: Minecraft Code Builder

The latest extension of Minecraft: Education Edition is Code Builder, where students immerse in a world of code, empowering them to build and create as they develop computational thinking. Released in May 2017, Code Builder for Minecraft partners with popular learn-to-code platforms like ScratchX, Tynker and with a new open platform called Microsoft MakeCode. For further learning opportunities, later in 2017 Code.org is also bringing Code Studio.
For assistance with this new feature, Minecraft has published a wide range of training materials to help teachers and students take into usage this new platform.
Watch the video below to learn more about Code Builder for Minecraft: Education Edition:

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