Although the annual British Education and Training Technology (BETT) 2016 show does not begin until tomorrow in the UK, Microsoft has announced a new Minecraft related acquisition and a new OneNote toolbar to expand the companies education related offerings.
The first is the acquisition of MinecraftEdu a company that has been helping educators use Minecraft in the classroom since 2011. This method of learning has proven very popular and in 2012 MinecraftEdu that over 250,000 students were using Minecraft through their services and it is used in over 40 countries worldwide.
Minecraft: Education Edition will offer an expanded set of features to empower educators to foster deeper student engagement and collaboration. Minecraft: Education Edition will be shaped by a growing community of educators throughout its development this spring and through the educator community online at http://education.minecraft.net. I’m happy to share that this site will also boast a new Minecraft Mentors program, matching educators with experience using Minecraft in the classroom with those looking to try it for the first time.
Microsoft will continue to support MinecraftEdu customers during the transition so they can continue using the tools they are already familiar with and will also offer them the first year of Minecraft: Education Edition at no cost.
Ultimately, Microsoft will be looking to keep the cost at $5 per user annually for Minecraft: Education Edition however, volume licensing will be an option for bigger schools.
The second announcement today from Microsoft in the education realm is related to OneNote - a tool that has gained a firm foothold in classrooms all over the world through the popular OneNote Class Notebook.
A new toolbar for OneNote 2013 and 2016, Learning Tools for OneNote, is now available for public preview at http://onenote.com/learningtools and helps students improve their reading and writing skills.
This tool is a direct result of a recent hackathon held at Microsoft last July and it was selected from over 3,300 other offerings.
When asked why they built this tool, one of the team members, Sebastian Greaves, said this:
“One of the key things we wanted to achieve is to make sure no student ever got behind in their education because of difficulties with reading. We wanted to make sure that was as little a barrier as possible, so they can focus on what they’re learning.”
You can download the toolbar and read more about its design focus at the Microsoft Office blog.