Microsoft, out of all valley giants, has particularly been a keen investor in improvinf the overall educational sector. Today, the Redmond giant announced two new developments which could bring its vision for educators to reality — acquisition of MinecraftEdu,a company that makes a modified version of Minecraft specifically for the classroom and Learning Tools for OneNote.
We’ve seen many innovative techniques of schooling introduced by the company before. A couple of instances of this could be learning basic programming through a hands-on experience with micro.bits or learning about other places and cultures in a connection through Skype.
Over the last few months, the company has envisioned possibilities of using Minecraft for education and today, the company officially acquired MinecraftEdu and is investing in a new and expanded version of Minecraft for the classroom called Minecraft Education Edition.
The company says that students can learn better and at their own pace if exposed to knowledge using a virtual world. They can be taught in depth about digital citizenship, empathy, social skills and we can even improve their literacy. This is already happening in more than 7,000 classrooms in more than 40 countries that are using Minecraft for education.
Anthony Salcito, Vice President of World Education at Microsoft writes,
Alfriston College students in New Zealand are partnering with Auckland War Memorial Museum to learn the history of the New Zealand people who served in the 1915 Gallipoli campaign by re-creating the landscape in Minecraft, block by block. Middle schoolers are learning the building blocks of computer science in an online Minecraft coding camp.Elementary students in Scotland are learning about city planning and engineering by reimaging, redesigning and then building in Minecraft what they think Dundee waterfront should look like.
Minecraft Education edition will be available as a free trial this summer for those of you who want to try it. The program will be boasted by a community of educators at http://education.minecraft.net.
The second big announcement the company made today is about Learning Tools for OneNote. This toolbar was in fact the winner at the Microsoft hackathon. The toolbar has been designed to improve reading and writing experiences for all students, including for those with learning disabilities like dyslexia. It uses a set of special tools, including advanced dictation, focus mode, and immersive reading, to make classroom activities easier and more fun.
To try it, head right here. Here are the benefits of this new tool that Microsoft has pointed out:
- English language learners can increase their fluency.
- Emerging readers can feel confident when reading material at a higher level.
- Students with learning differences like dyslexia can decode text more easily.