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How Minecraft is educating kids for the digital world

Minecraft is one of the most popular computer games of all time. Now it’s going beyond entertainment and into education for kids in the digital world.

When today’s 20-year-olds and older were growing up, we often heard the phrase “stop playing video games all day and do something productive for a change!” spoken from an angry parent. Now, things are changing.

Minecraft has grown beyond a simple game where you build things. Now, that the company that develops the game, Mojang, is under Microsoft’s umbrella, the software giant has started to use Minecraft for a lot more than gaming. You see, throughout the past few years fans of the game have discovered they can do anything in the world of Minecraft. Really, anything. Like working virtual hard drives, engines, even virtual factories and replicas of entire buildings and cities.

Each build usually comes with its own challenges. Minecraft has been the place where people who like to exercise their brains for fun have grown to love. It is an unique type of game which appeals to people from all ages and interests. Some simply spend time in a virtual world and hang out with friends. Other recreate their dream places and houses. Some even use it to teach and learn.

Learning in Minecraft can be quite complex. Players often create their own automated systems, minigames with programmed variables and develop things like essentially a random number generator. Anything is a go, as long as you can find a solution to adapt it. In a huge piece, the New York Times goes over some of the possibilities and uses of Minecraft.

Microsoft has already used Minecraft to teach children how to code. It is very basic, but we are talking about preschoolers and elementaryschoolers here, so it is actually impressive. It gives kids a great glimpse of the structure a program code should have and how it would work. The main goal is to help children discover whether coding is something they would like and if it is, to start actual training sooner.

The initiative shows the changes in education. Knowledge is no longer “tied” to the text books and it is getting more and more interactive. The Minecraft challenge shows how you can teach kids practical things without them even realizing it while playing a game. It also helps closing the digital skills gap.

Of course, just one video game alone is not enough to solve the problem completely. But it does create a better foundation on which to build actual digital skills and knowledge via specialized courses and trainings.

Image credit: Flickr (CC) / Kevin Jarrett