As announced earlier today, Minecraft: Education Edition is launching later this year, with a beta version in May and an early access program for teachers in June. But how successful will it be?
Minecraft’s sandbox nature means you can use it for a lot of things. The idea behind Minecraft: Education Edition is that teachers will be able to use it for all sorts of subjects. Quotes on the official website describe how an English teacher used Minecraft to help students with storytelling, and Mojang hopes for it to be used for many others: geometry, history, architecture, and more.
Some of these are apparent. With its focus on building, Minecraft could easily be adapted to teach students the principles of architectures. And it’s clear where some of the other ideas come from. A history teacher, for example, can use Minecraft to recreate a historical setting and let students explore it in Minecraft to illustrate the lesson.
This isn’t something specific to Minecraft. While most games that use historical settings take a little leeway with their interpretations, some could be used to help demonstrate points (just as movies based on historical events can aid education). Portal is another game that has seen some success in educational settings.
Of course, the basic idea behind any of these things is that using a game will both provide students with visual aids (and similar benefits) and make learning fun. There will always be those who aren’t interested even if Minecraft is being used for the lesson, but it might pull in some who would be disinterested in a regular lesson.
Not everyone learns the same way, and there isn’t one method that will work for everyone. The beta and upcoming early access period for Minecraft: Education Edition will give better insight into just how useful this game can be in classrooms, although the success of MinecraftEdu improves its chances.
So make your predictions now about Minecraft: Education Edition. Will it be a success? Will students learn better when Minecraft is used as an aid? Or will this be an experiment that sadly doesn’t work as well as might be imagined?