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Posted: Feb 8, 2021 in Discussion
What is Minecraft: Education Edition? So, you’ve been playing your lovable block building game ever since you were in diapers and all the sudden your teacher pulls out the cart full of Chromebooks and tells you to open up Minecraft. But wait! This isn’t the Minecraft you know and love. This isn’t Java, nor Bedrock, but some twisted amalgamation of what the corporate overlords at Microsoft deemed suitable to the curriculum of common core! Today’s blog will be an overall introduction and explanation of Minecraft’s most obscure yet fascinating property, Education Edition. With that, let’s jump right in!
Minecraft: Education Edition is an open-world game that promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving in an immersive environment where the only limit is your imagination, as said by Mojang. Essentially, this is a version of Minecraft developed to be hyper-efficient at utilizing resources and content tailored to a classroom setting. Classmates can collaborate with one another on projects, they can document their work, personalize their game experience, and much more.
The main appeal of this version comes from the resources offered and approved by the Minecraft team. Lesson examples and resources are available on an almost limitless variety of topics for all age groups such as maths, sciences, arts, history, and language.
Under any other company, I truly believe that this type of game would not work. But with the almost limitless resources of Microsoft, the accessibility/ease of use of Minecraft, the endless creator tools and the prestige of Minecraft as an IP, everything just clicks. It’s such a simple idea, and is made possible by bringing what children are interested in outside of school into the classroom.
Furthermore, Minecraft’s process for releasing content that teachers can use in any setting, whether it be a Kindergarten class, or a more sophisticated 11th grade Geometry course, is hyper-efficient. A stream of content is released in the form of a weekly newsletter that consistently offers teachers more options on top of a vast library of courses that they can choose from. The main strength of Education Edition is its variety and accessibility for all types of content. Want to teach kids about the Civil War? Done. Want to also teach them simple mathematical division, no major changes needed! This interconnectivity throughout the entire game has a major impact on learning and student engagement, and that is what makes this version of Minecraft viable.
Now, let’s be real. Is Dave trying to tell you to throw out all the textbooks and start teaching every lesson on Minecraft? Absolutely not. Although the viability of a program like Minecraft: Education Edition is irrefutable, it is not foolproof. There are clear issues I can see, but the benefits are apparent even only after a few years of use. On Education Edition’s home page, there are numerous statistics cited that indicate a clear improvement in creativity, knowledge retention, and collaboration in regards to computational/STEM topics. This means that there is a clear positive impact of using Education Edition in the classroom, especially for computational/STEM courses.
But with all that said, let’s take the rose-colored glasses off for a moment. I don’t know about you guys, but I know that those old Chromebooks pushed around in the cart at school SUCKED. That is, if your school even had a massive amount of laptops to go around. The reliance on technology, specifically, a large amount of performance-based laptops is too apparent to ignore. Although the benefits of using something like Minecraft: Education Edition are clear, the initial investment of the necessary technology may be too great to ask. However, as technology develops, so does the price. Almost every child in America has a smartphone, and it’s almost unheard of for a household to not have access to the internet.
It’s gotten to the point where society, in general, sees the internet and access to it as a necessity, rather than another purchasable service. A study from the US Census Bureau indicates that the rate of households that own a computer in America has increased from 8% to approximately 79% starting from 1984, ending in 2016. The numbers have surely increased as our dependency on the internet and technology do as well.
With that said, I am pointing this out to emphasize the fact that children and schools are going to continue to develop the technological aspect of learning, and whether that includes Minecraft: Education Edition is not a matter of if, but a matter of when.
Overall, this overview of Minecraft: Education Edition shows us that technology and school curriculum are developing to a point where I may not be able to understand it. Regardless, I find it very interesting how my favorite block game is able to help children and schools develop valuable skills and knowledge for the future while also being fun and enjoyable. It is Minecraft, after all. With that being said, have a great day!