Today, Microsoft announced the availability of Minecraft: Education Edition in over 50 countries around the world.
“Minecraft: Education Edition was built with the help of more than 50,000 students and educators who participated in our early access program and provided valuable feedback to help us fine-tune the experience across a diverse set of learning environments,” a Microsoft representative told me.
Microsoft announced Minecraft: Education Edition as part of its acquisition of MinecraftEdu in January 2016, well after its 2014 purchase of Mojang, which owned the mainstream versions of the game. After a short limited beta, Minecraft: Education Edition launched publicly in an Early Access Program back in June, giving educators an early (and free) peek at the experience. Then, in September, it said that Minecraft: Education Edition would ship on November 1.
Well, look at the date.
The generally available version of Minecraft: Education Edition includes everything educators saw in the Early Access Program. But it also adds new features, such as the Classroom Mode companion app that lets educators manage world settings, communicate with students, gift items, and teleport students in the virtual Minecraft world.
“Classroom Mode displays a map view of the Minecraft world, a list of all the students in the world, a set of world management settings and a chat window,” Microsoft told me. “There is even a Minecraft clock to show time of day in the world. Classroom Mode offers educators the ability to interact with students and manage settings from a central user interface.”
Of course, now that Minecraft: Education Edition is shipping, it’s no longer free. But the cost is reasonable at $5 per student per school year. Microsoft also offers education volume licensing discounts.
You can find out more about Minecraft: Education Edition on the web, and be sure to check out the Minecraft Mentors program, which connects educators with others who are teaching with Minecraft.