At its educational event today in New York City, Microsoft announced new functionality for Minecraft: Education Edition. Key among them is support for Code Builder, which will allow students and teachers to explore, create, and play in virtual worlds by writing software code.
“What continues to amaze me about Minecraft is that a game that strikes such a deep connection with children has become such an important learning tool to teach teamwork, logical thinking, and problem-solving,” Microsoft executive vice president Terry Myerson wrote in a prepared statement. “Minecraft is not just one of the most popular video games in history, it is also revolutionizing education, with schools in more than 100 countries using Minecraft: Education Edition to promote creativity and collaboration in the classroom.”
Microsoft says that Code Builder for Minecraft: Education Edition is designed to inspire students to learn the basics and the power of coding by combining the open worlds of Minecraft with popular learn-to-code platforms. Microsoft has created a new open source learn-to-code platform called MakeCode, but it also supports existing solutions like Tynker and ScratchX.
Code Builder for Minecraft: Education Edition is now available in open beta on Windows 10 and macOS. If you’re interested in checking it out, you can do so via the Minecraft: Education Edition Downloads site.
But that wasn’t the only Minecraft: Education Edition announcement today.
Later this Spring, Microsoft will launch Minecraft: Education Edition 1.01, an update that includes Command Blocks, additional languages, texture pack support, villager trading, adventure mode, concrete and terracotta blocks, and—yes, seriously—llamas. Also in version 1.01, Classroom Mode is being updated so that educators can manage chat, blocks that cause damage like lava and TNT, weather, and mobs, Microsoft says.
Also, starting today, qualifying purchases of Windows 10 computers and tablets will include a free, one-year subscription to Minecraft: Education Edition. These devices must be purchased for a K-12 school and the offer will be redeemable starting in July. (But it includes device purchases that occur now.)
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