Kids playing this edition of Minecraft can learn a variety of coding, math, and problem-solving skills.
Minecraft is an extremely popular game for kids. Science museums and enrichment courses center on a Minecraft theme. YouTube is flush with videos of gamers playing Minecraft that kids love. Minecraft: Education Edition may be a great option for kids who enjoy this popular game. Adults should know, however, that the education edition is its own game, separate from the original Minecraft. If your child has expectations for what Minecraft looks like, you want to be sure you’re purchasing the correct edition of the game. What is Minecraft: Education Edition and how does one play it?
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What Is Minecraft: Education Edition?
Minecraft: Education Edition is different from the original Minecraft game in important ways. While the original game allows for free exploration and plays like a traditional game, Minecraft: Education Edition is more of a platform for learning that is based on the popular game.
Kids playing this edition of Minecraft can learn a variety of coding, math, and problem-solving skills. They also get lessons in digital citizenship. Rather than focusing on game-play, students participate in project-based learning tutorials and games.
What Platforms Is It Available On?
Minecraft: Education Edition is being loaded onto Chromebooks just in time for school to start. In addition to this, it is available on Windows, Mac, and iOS. Students can log in with a Microsoft account (they are working on Google account logins). Once students log in, they can access their previous data and saved projects. Students can collaborate with one another – up to thirty in a classroom – without a separate server. You do need to have a valid Office 365 EDU account to play.
How Do You Play Minecraft: Education Edition?
Thankfully, Microsoft offers ready-made lessons so that teachers and students can easily get started with Minecraft: Education Edition. Microsoft does provide a “starter kit” that has various training scenarios, starter worlds, and sample lessons to help educators who might be feeling nervous about adding this resource to their classroom. There are three modes students can use in Minecraft – Survival mode, creative mode, and exploration.
Survival mode in Minecraft: Education Edition is exactly what it sounds like – your character needs to learn how to hunt, forage for food, build a structure, and avoid monsters, creatures, and other hazards that can be found in the Minecraft world. Just like in the full version of the game, you first select the world you’d like to play in. You can choose a world that has already been created for you or you can create a world at random. Like many video games, you have a health bar, and when that drops to zero, the game is over and you need to respawn.
The first thing one should do when playing in survival mode is to build a shelter with no way for monsters to get in. It’s good to help kids think through this part. “How do we stay safe at night? While there are no literal monsters in our world, our houses help keep us safe. What do you think you should do first in your Minecraft world?” Kids can gather the supplies they need by hitting trees and hitting dirt using their hand to turn those things into blocks.
Kids can hunt, again using their hand icon at first and then tools they make so that they can gather food, and food restores health. Once they’ve got the basics down, they can branch out and use objects they collect to craft things.
Creative Mode allows kids to create. This is where kids can do a lot of the educational programs and it keeps them from getting frustrated – they have access to every block that the game offers and they can’t die. They can explore their world in both the creative mode and the survival mode.
Classroom mode allows teachers to view where all their students are in the world that’s been created, allows them to turn on and off different blocks, and to communicate with players via chat. There’s also a code builder and agent mode, where students can create code and then the agent executes that code. Educators can also download various lesson plans.
Should You Be Concerned About Your Child Playing Minecraft?
Minecraft and Minecraft: Education Edition can be great educational games and resources. Perhaps the best part of using a game like Minecraft in school is that kids don’t really realize they’re doing it while they’re playing, and it can be a nice way to reach reluctant learners. The downside of Minecraft and other video games is it becomes very easy for kids to want to only play the game – and video game addiction can be a real problem for some individuals. It’s best to limit the screen time, even on games that do have educational components to them.
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