There are two things kids love to do while in self-isolation: annoy their parents, and play Minecraft. Now, Microsoft is releasing educational Minecraft content which will be free for all players.
The new content is available for free on the Minecraft Marketplace until June 30. It consists of various selections from the Minecraft: Education Edition. Players can travel to the International Space Station in a special partnership with NASA. They’ll learn what it’s like to be marine biologists or visit Washington landmarks. They can also learn coding and have the chance to find and build 3D fractals.
A Minecraft education
In a post announcing the free educational Minecraft content, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer said:
With hundreds of millions of kids at home due to coronavirus-related school closures more kids are going online to spend time with their friends, explore online worlds and learn through play. Families are trying to navigate the need to help their children with distance learning and balance that with taking time to have fun.
This content will likely help with the boredom faced by many kids who are trapped at home. That said, this is also a savvy business move for Microsoft. Minecraft: Education Edition has long been used as a teaching tool in schools, serving as a gateway drug for children who might not otherwise have tried playing the building game. Now, Microsoft can cut out the middleman by ditching school entirely.
This new content does blur the line between education and entertainment, both for good and ill. Some parents will welcome Minecraft as a way to keep Little Timmy and Suzie busy. Others, though, may be wary of the educational benefits of a game that’s also filled with explosive monsters.
Still, there are worse things to do while in lock-down than play some free, educational Minecraft content. Anything that keeps families functioning happily while stuck so close together is a very welcome offering.