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By Doug Zanger | Americas Editor

January 20, 2016 | 2 min read

Microsoft announced the acquisition of MinecraftEdu and that the popular online game, Minecraft, will have a new, expanded educational version for use in the classroom.

Set for a summer 2016 free trial release, it builds on MinecraftEdu - “a version of Minecraft built for the classroom" - that has been used in over 40 countries, according to a statement from Mojang, a Microsoft subsidiary.

Microsoft acquired Minecraft in September 2014 for a reported $2.5bn and is a favorite of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella who noted in PC World that it is “(the) perfect tool for introducing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects to students.” The new version of the game builds on MinecraftEdu, which was acquired by Microsoft this week for an undisclosed sum.

According to a post on the Microsoft blog “students can learn digital citizenship, empathy, social skills and even improve their literacy – while getting real time feedback on their problem solving skills from the teacher.”

The updated classroom edition of the game will feature “purpose-built” lessons to help educators in areas such as basic problem-solving to history, art and STEM disciplines. The “Great Pyramids of Giza” Minecraft mod, for example, focuses on engineering in ancient times while “Anderson Shelters” covers research on WWII, physics and blast strength of various blocks in Minecraft. Additionally, “Pixel Art” encourages visual arts and literacy.

Microsoft is working to get educators directly involved in building the ecosystem, through submission of Minecraft worlds with companion lesson plans. It also offers an “Intro to Minecraft” and a mentor program to make them familiar with the platform and encourage its use and participation.

Source: ExtremeTech

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