When you think of video games, what are the first three words to come to your mind?
Were they learning, education and classroom? No? Well soon enough, they just might be.
Microsoft has this month announced that it will be releasing an educational version of Minecraft, the popular online sandbox building game that the company acquired in 2014.
Minecraft was originally created by Swedish programmer Markus “Notch” Persson and later developed and published by Mojang. The game has a creative basis, allowing players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D procedurally generated world – think of it as Lego, but online. Other activities in the game include exploration, resource gathering, crafting, and combat.
Minecraft: Education Edition builds upon the already existing MinecraftEdu, a version of the game built for the classroom which has been used in over 40 countries to date. The new version will feature purpose-built “lessons” to help educators instruct students in areas ranging from basic problem-solving to history, art, and STEM disciplines.
Taking a step back for a moment, is there truly an educational benefit to video games? It would appear to be so, as around the world, video games – and not just Minecraft – are playing an increasing role in school curricula as teachers seek to deliver core lessons such as math, reading and computer programming in a format that holds their students’ interests. Some herald this gamification of education as the way of the future and a tool that allows students to take a more active role in learning as they develop the technological skills they need to succeed throughout their academic and professional careers. Few would argue that they can do it all in terms of education, however, they are a powerful learning tool when combined with other exploratory, hands-on activities and ongoing instruction from a teacher acting more as a coach than a lecturer.
What are your thoughts on the subject? Do you think that video games are purely a distraction from true education, or can they be absorbed into the classroom and utilised to inspire the increasingly tech-savvy younger generations of students?
At the annual BETT show this weekend? Minecraft has a stand alongside Microsoft, where you can go to experience Minecraft: Educational Edition for yourself by viewing tutorials and getting involved in playing the game. Find out more here about the workshops and tutorials that they’ll be hosting.
Minecraft:Education Edition is set to be released this summer as a free trial to existing Minecraft users.
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