By Jace Harr
Microsoft has announced beta testing of Minecraft: Education Edition, which is the company’s education-focused suite for Minecraft that integrates tools for teachers and students to help them use the game more effectively in the classroom.
The education-centered offshoot of was first revealed in January of this year. This May, a closed beta of the game will involve more than 100 schools in 30 countries, reports Pradeep of MS Power User. By June, any school will be able to access the Education Edition for free as long as teachers have a fully updated operating system and an Office 365 Education account. Eventually, Microsoft plans to charge $5 per user each year.
Minecraft: Education Edition is specifically tailored to teach the skills that Minecraft cultivates – namely collaboration, navigation, social skills, and empathy.
The video game blockbuster hit Minecraft is an open-world, sandbox-style game that allows players to build castles and fortresses to protect themselves from the many dangers the world has to offer. The players mine underground for supplies and then craft them into more complex items (hence the game’s name). The simple block-based system makes it easy for players to make basic and effective huts or complex architectural wonders. Players can also make rudimentary machines, grow plants, and breed livestock to help themselves survive.