Microsoft and Mojang have released several free Minecraft Education lessons in an effort to entertain and educate some of the many school kids who are currently missing classes due to coronavirus lockdowns.
These lessons were pulled from or based on the Education Edition of Minecraft, which many schools use in traditional classes. A collection of 10 lessons can now be downloaded from the Minecraft Marketplace for free via the new Education category. These include a replica of the International Space Station, a robot-aided coding course, a tour of Washington D.C. landmarks, marine biology, greek history, and more. These lessons are now live, and will be free to download through June 30.
"The worlds include lesson plans like creative writing activities, build challenges, and tricky puzzles," Mojang said in a blog post (opens in new tab). Learning in Minecraft might sound a bit hokey, but if these lessons are anything like the Education Edition of the game, they're sure to be no joke. Minecraft (opens in new tab) has helped countless kids learn everything from modern coding to ancient history in classroom settings. If nothing else, these lessons ought to help keep affected kids entertained while they're stuck at home, but they'll probably learn a thing or two (or 10) in the process.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer discussed the purpose of these lessons, and the value of gaming in general during this pandemic, in a separate blog post (opens in new tab).
"Many are looking to gaming to remain connected with their friends while practicing social distancing, and we are seeing an unprecedented demand for gaming from our customers right now," 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 … While kids may be home from school, family settings can help balance gaming with offline schoolwork and other responsibilities."
This wouldn't be the first time Minecraft helped kids affected by coronavirus: just recently, a group of Japanese students used it to host their own virtual graduation ceremony (opens in new tab).