Following months of testing and free trials for early adopters, Microsoft announced this morning that its learning-focused version of the popular Minecraft game, Minecraft: Education Edition, is now available for purchase. The game is available in 50 countries and in 11 different languages, the company said, and will include the Classroom Mode companion app that lets teachers manage settings and interact with students in the game.
Microsoft had first announced its plans to develop a version of the game for educators at the beginning of the year, after acquiring the learning game MinecraftEdu for an undisclosed sum. The company then built upon that library of lessons and activities to develop programs for teachers across a variety of subjects, including STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), history, language, and art, for example.
At the time of the deal, Microsoft had said it made sense to move in this direction given that Minecraft was already being using in over 7,000 classrooms in over 40 countries worldwide, even without Minecraft’s official involvement.
With that market in mind, Minecraft: Education Edition got off the ground, and now offers lessons for kids as young as five up to teens and even college students.
Teachers were given free trials during the testing period, ahead of today’s official launch, in order to offer feedback and try Minecraft in their classrooms. The company in September said that, during these trials, over 35,000 students and teachers have used the software.
The companion app Classroom Mode was previously announced, along with the November launch date. This new app lets teachers change the variables for the world, offer up items to students, communicate with students, and transport students virtually from a central interface.
Now live, Minecraft: Education Edition is no longer free, but will instead cost $5 per user. Volume pricing will be available for larger institutions.
The software will also continue to be updated over time, notes the company, to include new game features from other editions of Minecraft. At launch, the official version includes all the latest updates previously available in the Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition beta, says Microsoft.
In addition to the software, Microsoft offers a dedicated website for educators at education.minecraft.net, where they’ll find lesson plans, tutorials, starter worlds, and collaborate with others. There’s also a more structured program called Minecraft Mentors available, which will team a teacher new to Minecraft with others with experience to learn how to use it in the classroom.