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Pros: Stellar tutorial map and teacher dashboard aid accessibility and customizability.
Cons: Runs the danger of schoolifying Minecraft.
Bottom Line: Great for learners new to Minecraft and in need of guidance, but loses some of the wide-open and mysterious allure of the original.
Minecraft veteran teachers will find it easy to translate and augment what they've already been doing using MinecraftEdu's feature set. Teachers new to Minecraft -- no matter the subject area -- can create custom maps with student building areas and integrated content and assignments. MinecraftEdu also comes with a pre-installed tutorial world -- built using MinecraftEdu -- for teachers and students who are curious about the game but don't know what it's all about. This tutorial is a standout, cleverly mixing gameplay instruction with inspiration and philosophy. It also features an embedded set of activities (puzzles, building, platforming) that can easily take a few class periods and ends in a crafting area that's waiting to be transformed into a lesson. If you're interested in getting Minecraft for your class, this tutorial (and the educator discount) makes licensing via MinecraftEdu the no-brainer choice, even if you're planning on having students play regular Minecraft. For additional help on setup and implementation, teachers can visit the MinecraftEdu wiki or check out our guide for Getting Started with Minecraft in the Classroom.
Editor's Note: MinecraftEdu is no longer available. However, Microsoft has released Minecraft: Education Edition.
MinecraftEdu transforms Minecraft into a teacher-directed virtual learning environment. All of the open-ended possibilities of the base game still exist in MinecraftEdu, but its bundle of mods and dashboard features gives teachers more control. With MinecraftEdu, teachers can quickly host servers and build custom maps with integrated content as well as create and administer assignments and lessons. There is also a useful set of classroom management tools that make it easy to define player abilities and items; to freeze, mute, and teleport students; and to create specific building areas with player permissions -- allowing for different lessons or projects on one map and preventing griefing.
The original Minecraft is itself a fantastic tool for collaborative, student-directed work, but for teachers looking for ready-to-use tools and features that allow Minecraft to be modded and tuned to teaching specific content, MinecraftEdu offers tons of added value. MinecraftEdu also can be set up to preserve the wild openness of the base game, but the classroom management features, easy building tools, assignment delivery system, and a browsable World Library featuring user-generated, learning-focused worlds are what make it stand out. These added features speak to MinecraftEdu's core purpose: to help teachers design, scaffold, administer, and assess lessons within the world of Minecraft. The forthcoming rentable cloud server option, which will save teachers the trouble of setting up and hosting a MinecraftEDU server themselves, will solve a huge headache and roadblock for the less tech-savvy.