Minecraft makes it onto the school curriculum

Every secondary school in Northern Ireland to be given the hit video game for free

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Kids can’t get enough of Minecraft – and we have to say, we’re pretty big fans too. OK, so it has the odd zombie but the block-building game, dubbed virtual Lego, is creative, challenging and a world away from the the violent video games that parents love to hate.

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According to The Guardian there are around 50 million Minecraft fans worldwide who build fantasy worlds and virtual environments, all with little pixelated blocks.

And now it seems that schools want a bit of the block building action too. 200 secondary schools Northern Ireland will soon be given an educational version of the game for free to be played on classroom computers. Lucky them!

A computer game. In schools?

MinecraftEdu can be used to teach everything from coding to physics and one school in Sweden has already made the game a compulsory part of its curriculum. (NOTE TO PARENTS: Hide passports in case kids read this news.)

According to TeacherGaming, the developers behind the educational version, MinecraftEdu is already used by more than 3,000 teachers in schools around the world but its roll out into Northern Ireland is the first time it’s going to be distributed across a whole region.

“The level of engagement is the first thing you notice ,” said Mark Nagurski, chief executive of CultureTECH – the festival that’s behind the project to distribute the game to schools. “This is work that the kids really want to do and if you’re able to harness that enthusiasm, energy and creativity you end up with a pretty significant learning opportunity.

The future of teaching?

“The other exciting thing for us is the scalability and ‘sharability’ that Minecraft offers. If someone creates an engaging way of teaching, say, ancient history, using Minecraft, that can immediately be shared with all the other teachers using the game. You can already see that [happening] with things like Computercraft and we hope this project will add significantly to that resource.”

It all sounds pretty impressive, but what do you think about video games being used to teach in schools? Let us know in the comments.

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