Microsoft is continuing its mission to find educational uses for Minecraft with the news that it has acquired MinecraftEdu, a company that makes a modified version of Minecraft specifically for the classroom. Additionally, Microsoft said that it’s launching a new Minecraft Education Edition for schools this summer.
Mojang, the Sweden-based game development studio that shot to prominence due to its work on Minecraft, was acquired by Microsoft for $2.5 billion in 2014. MinecraftEdu said that it’s been working with Microsoft ever since “to plan for the future,” though it has kept those plans private until now.
As might be expected, Minecraft’s education offering features activities specifically geared toward students and educators. For example, there are enhanced maps with coordinates to help collaborative navigating, while young learners can take snapshots to save in their Student Portfolio section. There is also an “enhanced multiplayer” mode that lets up to 40 individuals create a Minecraft world in unison.
Microsoft said that it plans to keep the price at $5 per user per year, though there will also be a free trial version of the software available when it arrives this summer.
Though this marks the first official educational edition of Minecraft, the popular game is already being used in thousands of classrooms around the world, and Microsoft reckons it’s a good way to teach digital citizenship, empathy, social skills, and literacy.
And this isn’t the first time Microsoft has introduced Minecraft into the classroom. Back in November, the Seattle-based company teamed up with Code.org to launch a Minecraft tutorial to teach kids how to code. This was to mark Code.org’s annual Hour of Code campaign, in December.
In the wake of its acquisition by Microsoft, MinecraftEdu said that everything will be business as usual for its existing customer base, adding that it will continue to offer its wares until Microsoft’s new version lands this summer.