Microsoft announces new education-focused Minecraft edition

Minecraft is an open world video game where over 100 million users build and explore a massive, block-filled virtual environment. Back in 2014, Microsoft acquired Minecraft from Mojang for $2.5 billion USD, and fortunately for fans of the series, has kept the game mostly unchanged over the course of the last year and a half.

In the years following Minecraft’s 2011 release, a number of user communities have sprung up where people use the game in interesting ways. For example, MinecraftEdu, the education-oriented variant created in 2011, has made it into thousands of classrooms in more than 40 countries.

Microsoft announced today that it has acquired MinecraftEdu, and will be investing in turning the fan-made mod into a full expansion called Minecraft: Education Edition. Available as a free trial this summer, Education Edition will support current MinecraftEdu customers and offer the first year to them for free.

Microsoft says education.minecraft.net will host lesson plans and other resources for teachers utilizing the new platform. Minecraft is already being used to teach a variety of subjects, ranging from more obvious topics related to design, to English, art and poetry.

The fact that most Minecraft users are school-age, and many students are already familiar with the game, means that using the game for teaching purposes requires a minimal amount of training.