At this point, it’s likely that almost everyone has heard about Minecraft. By mid-2019, the gaming behemoth had sold over 176 million copies, making it one of the most successful games of all time. Minecraft is, at its core, a pixelated world of blocks in which players can mine materials, construct constructions, and outfit themselves with resources for adventure. Minecraft has become a darling of education since its inception in 2011, and many feel that its popularity among educators is what led Microsoft to pay US$2.5 billion for the game and its creator Mojang in 2014. Following the purchase, Microsoft contacted schools to learn more about how they were using the game.
What is it about the game that makes it so popular among educators? The open world design of Minecraft and the lack of in-game instructions make it a “thing to think with” (Papert, 1980, p. 23) that encourages trial and error. There are no set goals or objectives in this sandbox-style game. Minecraft is more of a toy than a game in many ways, as the player can apply their own rules and goals to it. The game’s openness allows teachers to use it in whatever way they see fit. It has been used by teachers to teach language, creative writing, and world history.
If you want to use Minecraft in the classroom, the first step is to figure out which Minecraft to use. There are currently three versions of the game, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and deciding which one is ideal for your classroom is largely a matter of circumstance.
Java Edition of Minecraft
Minecraft was originally developed in Java, and players rapidly began creating their own game changes, or mods. These mods allow players to alter many features of the game to suit their own personal preferences. This has resulted in a plethora of possibilities in this version of Minecraft, allowing it to be tailored to practically any requirement. Modifications have been made to the game to reflect quantum physics and deep space, as well as to recreate fantastical worlds.
This openness and flexibility is also present in multiplayer sessions. Minecraft allows you to create servers that players from all over the world can join for cooperative gaming. Though server setup has become easier, with Mojang even hosting servers, getting things up and running still requires a little technical know-how.
Windows 10 Edition of Minecraft
When Microsoft bought Minecraft, they created a new C++-based version of the game. This update in the underlying code had the advantage of allowing gamers from different devices to play together. Desktop computers (for PCs, this implies Windows 10) as well as game consoles and mobile devices may all connect to the same server and play together, making it an excellent choice for schools that use iPads.
The disadvantage of this new edition is that it does not support all of the mods produced for the Java version. The Windows 10 edition has established a substantial mod community over the years, although it pales in comparison to the Java edition.
Minecraft: Education Edition is a game developed by Mojang.
Because of Minecraft’s popularity in the classroom, Microsoft bought the rights to a customized version of the game called Minecraft: Edu. They renamed it Minecraft: Education Edition and upgraded the C++ code to match the Windows 10 version (EE).
Server commands are available in the Java version of Minecraft, which have been integrated into the in-game menu in Minecraft: EE. These commands now have a graphical user interface, allowing educators to have a lot of influence over the game without having to know how to code or memorize commands. It also allows teachers to pause the game, send direct messages to students, and assign homework to them.
The most significant disadvantage of Minecraft: EE is that it requires participants to have an Office 365 account, and only players on the same domain can play together. Minecraft: EE may be a good fit for your classroom if all of your pupils have 365 accounts and school-provided email addresses. Minecraft: EE may not be the greatest choice for your classroom if you teach students from different schools or from different parts of the country. Find more information at aka ms remoteconnect.