As part of a campaign to expand its share of the educational marketplace, Microsoft has created a new Code Builder tool that works in conjunction with Minecraft Education Edition and also integrates with Tynker, MIT’s ScratchX and the Microsoft MakeCode open source platform.
CodeBuilder was unveiled at a MicrosoftEDU event that took place in New York on May 2nd as one of several initiatives to spread Microsoft learning tools across K-12 classrooms – including Windows 10 S which we have already reported on.
At the event Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said:
“Democratizing education opportunity must be inclusive of everyone, not just a select few. To me this is extremely personal. This includes students with disability and different learning styles.”
Microsoft's Minecraft Education Edition, an educational version of Minecraft specifically designed for classroom use, was announced in January 2016 and released in November after a beta test that opened in June. It costs $5 per year per user but is only available for purchase by schools, libraries, museums, and “participants in nationally recognized home-school organizations”.
The beta of Code Builder for Minecraft is now available for schools to try with both the Windows 10 and macOS versions of Minecraft Education Edition. New users can get a free one-year trial from the Microsoft Store for Education and both Minecraft Education Edition and the Code Builder add-on.
Another new facility for Minecraft Education Edition is to use it with Microsoft MakeCode, which is described as:
an open source is a platform that combines the magic of Making with the power of Coding as a more inclusive approach to computer science education.
This video from the team shows the new MakeCode for Minecraft in action:
The restriction with taking advantage of this is that you’ll need an Office 365 for Education account, and so have to be an educator, administrator, or student at an eligible institution, something that has attracted adverse comments from people who don't have this access. However, at the Windows 10 S launch it was stated that:
All new machines that ship with Windows 10 S will also come with a free Minecraft Education Edition subscription.
which might provide a new way in for those willing to buy new hardware.