Thursday, 9 November 2017

Minecraft: Education Edition; 2 Years On.

Nearly 2 years ago (20th Jan 2016) I wrote a blog post detailing my concerns about Microsoft acquiring MinecraftEdu and planning on releasing their own version. I read that post again today while I had a spare few minutes, I sometimes revisit old posts to see what I was thinking at the time, and that one happened to be the one I read.

What is interesting is I had 5 concerns, and looking at the current version of Education Edition 3 have been, to what I would consider, fixed. This is the list of initial concerns from that post.

1) Licensing
2) Ethos of the team behind MC:EE
3) Mod support
4) OS support
5) Lack of features in code base

Licensing is still a mild concern for me, $5 per head per year still stings, but I think I have mentioned this before, in my new role I work with a lot of school leaders, and to them, this is not a huge barrier. So while I as a teacher have concerns, it may not be a huge barrier to some others.

The ethos of the team behind MC:EE, I have zero concerns here now, having worked with them over the last 12 months as a global mentor, and throughout the beta the team in the background are absolutely on the right path. They definitely have the right ethos, in my opinion at least, take that as a recommendation or disregard and make your own mind up.

Mod support, still a fairly significant concern for me. I am beginning to explore "Addons" and I know this allows me to change the textures of blocks and items and such, but interestingly in my explorations so far also the behaviours of existing mobs. I am not entirely sure how far these addons allow customisation of the game, but it is at least mostly functional for the kind of lessons I like to build and run with students.

OS support, again from a selfish perspective, this has been resolved. Mac and Windows 10 are all I need, I am still a little disappointed they have not given Linux any love, or any previous versions of Windows, as I can see that schools might still utilise these OS's thus limiting their ability to get involved.

Features in the code base. Now this is perhaps where the biggest shift has happened, at least for me. It was always going to happen, but upon reading my previous post, I realised just how far it has come. There are now comparable commands and command blocks. Most of the basic features in the current Minecraft Java version are now available in the Windows 10 edition, which means they are available in EE, so all my desired redstone contraptions and command block magic can now be created.

So what does all this mean? For me at least, it means I am beginning to look at re-creating some of my maps/lessons/activities/experiences in MC:EE. Currently I am still not in the classroom, so I cannot use them with kids myself, but it is time for me to begin exploring just how far MC:EE has come in terms of helping me to create the kinds of lessons and activities I really enjoyed crafting and teaching with. Also within my role I may get the opportunity to trial some of these activities in schools, various schools, which would be an awesome opportunity, both for me, and the teachers and students involved.

I also have a few untested ideas that I would like to play around with, all I need to do is find the time. I think that some of the ideas I have been sitting on for years to try and implement, still the have the time issue, but the functionality is now there, as some of them were still not possible in 1.7.10, and 1.8.9 was not quite stable enough for full scale implementation within classrooms.

So, fingers crossed, I will start sharing more posts about my MC:EE creations, both here and on the MC:EE lesson site as I begin to develop and re-develop some of my thoughts and ideas around educating students using Minecraft game mechanics.

Thanks for reading, I hope to not be quite so 'absent' in the future and as always if you have any comments, feel free to drop them below.


  1. Thanks for the post! I really appreciate your willingness to go back and re-examine your earlier concerns, and I'm pretty much tracking with you on all of these. My only niggling concern is the lack of being able to "really" mod, as in Java. I realize W10MC is in C++, but I'd be ok to learn how to do that.

    1. Hi Bob! Thanks for continuing to read my ramblings and take the time to share some of your own thoughts, it is very much appreciated.

      After posting this I realised there are still some limitations that I don't like, but that would not have impacted on my ability to do what I did in my class if I was just starting now. If that makes sense.

      The non-centralised server is a blessing and a curse, it does make it simpler for teachers to get up and running, but it also could make it significantly harder to run lessons. Of course not having used EE in a classroom setting I cannot comment on this for sure. However, I think, as always, a well run lesson in Minecraft is just like a well run lesson in the 'real world classroom' the activities provided will determine whether students are engaged or not.

      The other is the no cross school play. Again not something that would have seriously impacted on what I did in my classroom, but still a significant 'lack' in the current field of play. I think Minecraft provides a great opportunity to get cross class, school and even country collaborations happening, and unfortunately this is not an option.

      How this would have affected me was the collaborative building I did with other teachers from around the globe on lessons, being a critical friend to their lessons, and them being a critical friend to mine, or just play testing lessons as a team. While I could build and test a map in the Windows 10 version, and port it over to EE easily, by doing so I am missing the some of the features that may be essential to my map being 'functional' and hence the testing would kinda be nullified.

      I have had a bit of a play, only a brief play for a specific purpose, with addons, but I believe there is a way to have some pretty interesting impacts on the game, I am not sure 'adding' things like the Java mods are able to is an option, but if I find anything I will let you know.

  2. I do think that was one of the great features of the older MCEdu: the ability to make worlds and have the whole class in at once, and then perhaps others around the world. I'm sure Microsoft is aware of that and may be working towards an implementation. Thanks for all you did in this area!