Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to read the full app review.
What’s It Like?
Minecraft: Education Edition takes everything teachers love about Minecraft and adds new collaboration tools, classroom controls, and more. The Classroom mode gives teachers a map view of the world and the ability to interact with the students in one central location; if a student wanders away from the group, the teacher can easily bring the avatar (student) back to the working area. Teachers can create “chalkboards” of different sizes to display their learning objectives within the game, as well as non-playable characters (NPCs) to act as guides with links to more information. A camera tool has opened up new opportunities, as well. Students can now take pictures (and selfies) of their creations and generate a portfolio of their work to show the learning process. A newer feature, the Code Builder, lets students use programming to perform tasks in the game.
Pros: Highly engaging, adaptable to any subject area; great improvements to teacher controls.
Cons: Some students will be used to the freedom of the original Minecraft game and may balk at the more traditional, guided structure.
Bottom line: An excellent tool to engage students in learning, collaboration, and critical thinking is now more accessible than ever to teachers.