Minecraft coming to a school near you — again

Jonny Rice wears a Minecraft-themed mask while promoting a video clip he created during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. (Photo credit: AP photo by Jae C. Hong, File)

Jonny Rice wears a Minecraft-themed mask while promoting a video clip he created during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. (Photo credit: AP photo by Jae C. Hong, File)

By Bree Fowler
AP Technology Writer

Microsoft is buying the educational version of Minecraft and has plans to create a bigger and better version of the popular world-building video game that’s designed for classrooms.

The Redmond, Wash., software company will partner with TeacherGaming LLC, creator of MinecraftEdu, to transform that game into “Minecraft: Education Edition.” Financial terms were not disclosed.

Microsoft says the new version will add and expand features intended to make the game classroom friendly, including better maps and coordinates that will help teachers and students find their way around a Minecraft world together. Developers will also beef up the game’s multi-player capabilities so that a classroom of up to 40 kids can work together.

The game lets players explore, fight monsters and build surprisingly complex structures — even electrical circuits — out of blocks. You could easily use it to teach math, said Deirdre Quaranstrom, Microsoft’s director of Minecraft education. But kids could also explore ancient temples in the game for a history class or view the inside of an eyeball as part of a science lesson.

Perks for educators include an online community with a mentorship program for connecting teachers experienced with Minecraft to those new to it.

The new game will be available this summer, with free trials available for teachers and students. Microsoft will announce pricing details before the end of the current school year, but says it currently plans to keep the price at $5 per user per year.

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