Minecraft, Mojang’s breakout game of building and exploration, is being distributed for free to schools in Northern Ireland. The initiative was organized as part of the annual CultureTECH festival and funded by the country’s Department of Culture, Arts, and Leisure. (via The Guardian)
200 schools and 30 libraries and community organizations will be supplied with download codes for MinecraftEdu, an educational version of the game created by the company TeacherGaming, which was formed by a group of American and Finnish educational game developer’s soon after Minecraft‘s launch in 2011 to facilitate its use in the classroom.
“The level of engagement is the first thing you notice,” said Mark Nagurski, chief executive of CultureTECH. “This is work that the kids really want to do, and if you’re able to harness that enthusiasm, energy, and creativity, you end up with a pretty significant learning opportunity.”
TeacherGaming’s iteration of Minecraft (with the full support of Mojang) added additional controls, features, and networking options to better facilitate this passion and utilize it for educational purposes. They claim that over 3,000 teachers in hundreds of schools around the world currently utilize MinecraftEdu in the classroom. One Swedish school, for instance, made it a compulsory part of the curriculum in 2013. This is the first time that the game has been distributed for educational purposes across an entire region.
“We’ve seen Minecraft being used to teach everything from coding to physics,” Nagurski said, “but I think that there’s a real opportunity to develop more of these kind of creative projects, too.”
TeacherGaming has also developed an educational version of Kerbal Space Program, an elaborate rocketry and astrophysics simulation that serves as a fantastic playground for students to get their hands dirty with rocket science. Gaming in the classroom has come a long way since the days of Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing and The Oregon Trail.