More than a year after its $2.5 billion acquisition of Minecraft maker Mojang, Microsoft says it’s buying MinecraftEdu — a version of the game that was created for the classroom — in an attempt to expand the blockbuster franchise further into schools and education.
Microsoft says it will build on MinecraftEdu to create an expanded version called “Minecraft: Education Edition,” available initially this summer as a free trial. MinecraftEdu was created by TeacherGaming LLC in 2011, and it has since spread to more than 40 countries with the support of Mojang.
“One of the reasons Minecraft fits so well in the classroom is because it’s a common, creative playground,” said Vu Bui, COO of Mojang, in a post by the company announcing the plans. “We’ve seen that Minecraft transcends the differences in teaching and learning styles and education systems around the world. It’s an open space where people can come together and build a lesson around nearly anything.”
The company says the new version will include input by an advisory board of educators, and will come with a community site that will offer lesson plans and a new program, Minecraft Mentors, in which teachers experienced in using the game will help others introduce it in their classrooms.
It’s big news for Minecraft in education, but not a big surprise: an acquisition of MinecraftEdu was one of possibilities cited by GeekWire contributor Frank Catalano in analyzing the potential for Minecraft in education after Microsoft’s Mojang deal.
Separately this morning, Microsoft’s education technology team also announced an add-on called OneNote Learning Tools, a toolbar for the Microsoft note-taking software designed to help students improve their reading and writing skills.