Microsoft
By Matt Peckham
January 19, 2016

While everyone’s been off building working computers, all of Denmark (true to scale) and the entirety of George R.R. Martin’s Westeros in Mojang’s indefatigable Minecraft, a bunch of intrepid U.S. and Finnish teachers have been cobbling together an education-angled version of the world famous block-building juggernaut.

It’s been called MinecraftEdu since it got going a few years ago, though apparently not for much longer. Microsoft, which paid $2.5 billion for Minecraft in September 2014, now it says it’ll add MinecraftEdu to its portfolio. What’s more, Redmond says we’ll soon witness the birth of a “new and expanded version” of MinecraftEdu, dubbed Minecraft: Education Edition.

MinecraftEdu was basically Minecraft tweaked by an international team of teachers to include aids that made the game easier to use as a teaching tool in classrooms. It has enjoyed official support from Minecraft creator Mojang and broad adoption in over 40 countries “in every subject area from STEM to Language, to History, to Art.”

Microsoft isn’t yet saying what will give Minecraft: Education Edition its pizzaz. The company has involved an advisory board of educators, and says a free trial will roll out worldwide this summer. There’s also a new program in the offing called “Minecraft Mentors” designed to let Minecraft teaching vets help would-be neophytes. (Mojang adds that existing MinecraftEdu users will get the first year of the new edition free of charge, confirming that the game will shift from a one-time license to an ongoing subscription model.)

You can follow development at the new community site here.

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