Microsoft spent 2016 developing and previewing Minecraft: Education Edition, before launching the service in November. Since then, the game-turned-educational tool has been used by 75,000 students and educators. With a large user base to maintain, Microsoft is issuing a significant update for Minecraft: Education Edition.
The company is announcing the release at BETT conference. Minecraft will be a major part of Microsoft's presence at the world's leading education exhibit. BETT is being held in London between Jan. 25 and 28. The company says the new update comes with a number of new features.
Reflecting the growing number of Minecraft: Education Edition users, Microsoft says the changes are based on feedback from the community. Among the new additions to the platform is Global Pause. This allows users to stop activity to move to another task.
Microsoft has also tweaked the UI for in-game settings. In terms of gameplay, users will now have more space for creation as the height limit for blocks is increased to 256. Also, new Minecraft mobs are coming, while new items like Polar Bears and igloos will also make their debut. The company says complete gameplay from the first night to The End dimension will also be released.
Also on the Education Edition agenda today, Microsoft said it is expanding the Minecraft Mentor program. It now includes 60 Global Minecraft Mentors from 18 countries.
Minecraft: Education Edition
Microsoft purchased Minecraft developer Mojang in a multi-billion-dollar deal in 2013. Since then the game has continued to be a huge hit. However, Microsoft sees it as a platform beyond gaming, and the Education Edition is a reflection of this belief.
The service comes with a companion app called Classroom Mode. This gives admins the ability to control and environment and communicate to students within it. For example, teachers can share items and create group participation projects within a world. Educators can see which students are in the class and have a dashboard to manage the game.
Other features of Education Edition include Geometry World, which is geared towards students between the ages of 9 and 12. The feature allows children and educators to use the Minecraft environment to understand shapes and concepts.