By Anthony Salcito, vice president, Microsoft Education
To the community of 100 million players around the world, Minecraft represents many things – creativity, strategy, collaboration and survival, just to name a few. What many may not realize is that Minecraft has the power to transform learning on a global scale. By creating a virtual world and then advancing in it, students can learn digital citizenship, empathy, social skills and even improve their literacy – while getting real time feedback on their problem solving skills from the teacher. In fact, more than 7,000 teachers around the world are already using Minecraft in the classroom.
Building on this natural use of Minecraft in the classroom, we announced today with Code.org, that we are bringing a Minecraft-inspired coding tutorial to students and educators, created especially for Hour of Code, an annual, global campaign held during Computer Science Education Week, Dec. 7-13. The new tutorial – now available at http://code.org/mc – introduces players to basic coding within the fun and familiar environment. Created by Minecraft game designers, the tutorial includes characters and challenges inspired by the game developed by Mojang and familiar to players around the world.
As technology has become an integral part of people’s daily lives around the world, we’re seeing a growing demand — from students, parents, teachers, governments, and nonprofits — to teach youth not only how to use technology, but also how to create technology to help them become the innovators and drivers of growth and opportunity in their communities. Learning computer science builds critical skills like computational thinking and problem solving that strengthen abilities in any industry and any sector.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently announced a $75M commitment in community programs via the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative to increase access to computer science education for all youth, especially for those from under-represented backgrounds, and to build greater diversity into the tech talent pipeline. Today’s announcement with Code.org further underscores that commitment. Our partnership with Code.org and our involvement in the Hour of Code is a key effort to inspire students to become interested in computer science.
The Hour of Code campaign has gotten so much traction around the world because it provides opportunities for all of us to participate. If you are an educator or a parent, you can invite your students and children to do the Minecraft tutorial at http://code.org/mc or attend a live Hour of Code workshop at any Microsoft store. Anyone can volunteer to lead a coding workshop, or if you want to advocate for more computer science education in our schools you can add your voice to the thousands that are already calling for it.
New resources for Educators and School Leaders Available Today
To truly transform education, access to tools, proper training and resources are critical. Today we are announcing a first of its kind partnership with edX to create new courses for school leaders and to provide greater access to Microsoft’s existing school leader resources . Together, we will develop online courses to help guide principals and head masters, superintendents and school leaders in improving their schools and enhancing classroom learning.
This partnership expands upon the collaboration between edX and Microsoft in online learning. Microsoft offers more than 35 online courses, both MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and professional education courses, on edX.org. These new courses for school leaders will be developed with edX university partners, shared with educators around the world, and will be available for the new school year. Even more details about this exciting new partnership can be found on the edX blog.
Microsoft has a long history of supporting educators and we remain committed to providing teachers the tools and training needed to redefine learning. Over the years we’ve trained more than 11 million educators through our Educator Community. Just this last year close to a half million more educators came to Microsoft trainings and workshops online, in our stores and at events.
Today, we are announcing that we will reach more than 2 million educators in the next three years with these resources — all available on the new Microsoft Educator Community launched today. The online community provides educators around the world with access to lessons plans, trainings, Skype virtual field trips, and more. Even more it connects educators around the world to share best practices and learn from each other.
And, we’re excited to announce the expansion of our Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts and Microsoft Showcase and Associate Showcase School programs. Today, more than 5,600 educators and more than 550 schools are part of the programs designed to highlight their innovative work and provide greater resources to support their success. These educators and school leaders, who we celebrate as leaders in their communities, work alongside their colleagues to integrate technology into how the they teach and their students learn. Congratulations to the nearly 2,700 educators and nearly 400 schools who just joined today!
Learning without borders – Join us December 3 and 4!
To celebrate and recognize how educators are using technology to expand the walls of their classroom, we are hosting a Global Skype-a-Thon on December 3 and 4. Students all over the world will connect with guest speakers and other classrooms, go on virtual field trips, or play games of Mystery Skype. Join us and help reach the goal to travel 1 million virtual miles in 2 days. I’m looking forward to doing this myself as I Skype with classrooms around the world for one straight day!
We’ve made it our mission to partner with people and organizations who share our passion. Together, we can empower every student on the planet to achieve more.