Just in time for Computer Science Education Week and the Hour of Code, Microsoft Corp. and Code.org have unveiled the Minecraft Hour of Code Designer, a coding tutorial for students and educators.

The Hour of Code is an annual global campaign held during Computer Science Education Week, which this year runs Dec. 5–11.

The new web-based tutorial, available for free at http://code.org/minecraft, helps novice coders to create and share their own simple “Minecraft” game, and is designed to empower anyone to begin learning the problem-solving and critical thinking skills required in today’s tech-fueled world.

Created by “Minecraft” game designers at Mojang and Microsoft, in partnership with Code.org, the fun and easy-to-learn one-hour experience builds on the success of last year’s record-breaking “Minecraft” tutorial, which reached more than 30 million students worldwide.

With the immense popularity of “Minecraft” around the world, Microsoft and Code.org believe the tutorial has the potential to reach people of all ages and likeness. Women and girls already compose nearly half of the game’s global fan base.

The tutorial also underscores Microsoft’s commitment to ensuring all young people have the opportunity to learn computer science, an economic and social imperative in this era of digital transformation, which is expected to generate 1.4 million computing jobs in the U.S. alone by 2020 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the U.S., 40 percent of schools do not teach computer science, and Microsoft aims to reach students most likely to be among those without access, particularly girls and minorities.

Designed for ages 6 and up, the Minecraft Hour of Code Designer teaches students to create their own “Minecraft” experience where they can program the rules. They can make chickens that drop gold, or zombies that run away instead of attacking. Along the way, students use Code.org’s familiar drag-and-drop coding interface to learn computer science concepts such as object-oriented programming, event handlers and repeat loops. Players face a series of 12 challenges, culminating in creating their own simple game, which they can share with friends.

“The 2016 Minecraft Hour of Code tutorial builds on the success of the original in a great way,” said Mike Harvey, technology teacher from Falmouth, Maine. “By programming familiar game events themselves, learners will be able to experience computer science in a way that is authentic as well as fun. The open-ended challenges help to show that our favorite games (like Minecraft) are ultimately created with code.”

In support of Code.org and the global Hour of Code campaign, Microsoft also will lead thousands of youth coding events in more than 60 countries. During Computer Science Education Week, this includes hundreds of free workshops hosted by Microsoft Stores across the globe. Students can reserve a spot in a store workshop by visiting microsoft.com/youthsparkprograms and also visit their local Microsoft Store to learn more.

In addition to the latest tutorial and coding events, Microsoft has also been receiving rave reviews from educators on the newly launched “Minecraft: Education Edition” title, a fully featured title that brings the magic of “Minecraft” to the classroom for more immersive, long- term lesson plans.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura


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