The Short of It
Microsoft is introducing a new Education Edition of the popular video game Minecraft to schools.
Like many other 10-year-olds, my son is obsessed with Minecrafting. Weekends are spent sourcing diamond ore, dodging Creeper, and watching Stampy on YouTube. We've done the virtual world-themed birthday party and the Steve costume for Halloween. He's even got a Redstone nightlight.
So, I'm sure my kids will be happy to hear that Microsoft is now bringing the video game into the classroom, with a new Education Edition.
For the uninitiated, Minecraft is an insanely popular online video game that lets players build their own virtual worlds using blocks. More than 22 million people own the game, and more than 7,000 classrooms in 40 countries already have an existing version of the software called MinecraftEdu.
Now Microsoft has seen the potential of the video game as a learning tool and plans to launch it's Education Edition for schools this summer.
"It's not that it helps kids learn different," Rafranz Davis, a teacher and technology planner said in a video statement. "[It's that] it helps us see the way that they learn different, and I think that is the biggest game changer."
But will having the video game in school lead to a decrease in socializing? "The first time, there is that fear," Davis told CNN Money. But it's great for group projects, and sometimes students end up training teachers, she added.
Instructors currently use Minecraft to teach everything from coding and math to history, geography, and civil engineering. The new Education Edition will offer better maps with coordinates that teachers and students can use to navigate virtual worlds. The multi-player mode will also be built to accommodate up to 40 students and will also have a social media component.
I have to admit, this sounds pretty awesome. But will having Minecraft in school make it seem suddenly less cool to the kids?
Vu Bui, COO of Minecraft developer Mojang (which Microsoft bought in 2014 for $2.5 billion) says "no." "Minecraft isn't cool because of the game," he told CNN Money. "It's cool because of the people who create stuff within it."