With schools shutting down all over the world due to the coronavirus outbreak, Microsoft is adding a new category to the Minecraft Marketplace that contains free educational worlds. This curated list comes from Minecraft: Education Edition, the version of the game designed for use in classrooms.
"I have previously stated that I believe gaming has a unique power to bring people together, to entertain, to inspire and connect us, and I believe that’s even more true under these unique circumstances," said head of Xbox Phil Spencer in a message to the community. "Many are looking to gaming to remain connected with their friends while practicing social distancing, and we are seeing an unprecedented demand for gaming from our customers right now."
Microsoft has released the collection to help families "navigate the need to help their children with distance learning and balance that with taking time to have fun." It's designed to let kids play while filling some of the gap left in the wake of school closures, and there are some pretty neat lessons in there that frankly make me a bit jealous. My first school computer was a BBC Micro, so there were no visits to a blocky version of the International Space Station for me.
As well as learning about the ISS, kids will code with a robot, explore landmarks in Washington DC, build 3D fractals and learn what it's like to be a marine biologist. Microsoft is releasing the lessons on the marketplace today for free, and you'll be able to download them through June 30.
You can also learn more about using Minecraft as a remote learning tool.