Minecraft has spawned a host of educational projects. All 43,000 square km of Denmark was scanned in and used to teach architecture; qCraft allowed us to visualise the strange world of quantum physics; and of course MinecraftEdu remixed the original game to give teachers lesson planning and crowd control tools. Microsoft has now purchased the latter and will be relaunching it as Minecraft: Education Edition in summer.
This is exciting. I mean, maybe Microsoft could brainwash our offspring into becoming underachieving corporate cheerleaders with which to prop up a cyber-dystopia, but considering the extent of Microsoft's resources compared to those of MinecraftEdu's previous owners, TeacherGaming, it's hard to imagine who might exploit (in a good way) the educational potential of Minecraft as fully.
“One of the reasons Minecraft fits so well in the classroom is because it’s a common, creative playground,” Mojang COO Vu Bui says. “We’ve seen that Minecraft transcends the differences in teaching and learning styles and education systems around the world. It’s an open space where people can come together and build a lesson around nearly anything.”
Details of new features are not to be had, Mojang stating only that it will be "building upon its proven success to create a new version of Minecraft that’s dedicated to learning", but sample lesson plans and maps can already be found on the Education Edition website.