Minecraft: Education Edition to become available mid-2016

Here is the announcement from Minecraft’s maker, Mojang:

Arriving this summer, the new title aims to reach more educators around the world with a richer set of features and a thriving community.

At its core, Minecraft is an open world that promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem solving. It’s enjoyed by a worldwide community of over 100 million players who constantly inspire us with their creations.

Many of the skills required to enjoy Minecraft to its fullest are important to educators who might be searching for inventive ways to engage their students. By bringing Minecraft into the classroom, we are empowering educators and students to teach and learn through building and exploring within a fun, familiar environment.

We’ve already seen it transform classrooms and curriculum. Since 2011, MinecraftEDU from TeacherGaming LLC from Finland – a version of Minecraft built especially for the classroom – has reached thousands of classrooms in more than 40 countries around the world, all reporting wild success. We don’t want to stop there. We believe this is just the beginning.

Today, we’re excited to announce Microsoft is acquiring MinecraftEdu and investing in a new and expanded version of Minecraft for the classroom called Minecraft: Education Edition. This new title – available as a free trial this summer – will build on the learnings from MinecraftEdu while offering an expanded set of features. And in support of MinecraftEdu customers, they can continue to use MinecraftEdu and we will offer the first year of Minecraft: Education Edition for free.

In the spirit of the Minecraft community, we are dedicated to making sure Minecraft: Education Edition is shaped in the coming months by a growing community of educators online at education.minecraft.net. We’re also excited to also share that these community pages will host a variety of resources like lesson plans and a new Minecraft Mentors page that allows educators experienced in Minecraft to connect with those interested in trying it for the first time.

“One of the reasons Minecraft fits so well in the classroom is because it’s a common, creative playground,” said Vu Bui, COO of Mojang. “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.”

Since the introduction of Minecraft to the classroom, educators around the world have been using Minecraft to effectively teach students everything from STEM subjects to art and poetry. It’s this versatility that excites many educators about the potential.

“In education, we are constantly seeking pathways to explore learning beyond the confines of a textbook. Minecraft allows us that opportunity,” said Rafranz Davis, Executive Director of Professional Development and Learning, Lufkin ISD. “When we see our kids enjoying the process of learning in this way, it’s a game changer.”

For more information about Minecraft: Education Edition check out our FAQ at education.minecraft.net and sign up to be a part of our educator community.

CNET News video on smartwatches from Samsung, Qualcomm, Sony and more

This CNET News video is a touch more than a month old as I post, but it still may interest you. There are a few words also on the Apple iWatch which may be introduced in 2014 as an accessory to the iPhone, plus efforts from Microsoft, Google, Dell and more.

Microsoft Office’s Mr. Clippy as anti-inspiration for MailChimp’s mascot

Mr. ClippyMailChimp mascot Freddie Von Chimpenheimer IV

Now I resume the topic of the post of 8 April 2013 on emotional design regarding MailChimp’s mascot Freddie Von Chimpenheimer IV. I quote extensively from Aarron Walter’s Designing for Emotion (2011, A List Apart, pp. 60-61):

Remember Mr. Clippy, the cartoon assistant in Microsoft Office from 1997 to 2003? He inspired uncontained vitriol from users because of his poor timing. While writing a letter in Word, Clippy would slide onto the screen and ask, “It looks like you’re writing a letter. Would you like help?” The general response people had was, “Get the hell out of my way you bloody pain in the backside.” (That’s the polite version.) Blocking a user’s workflow is always a bad idea.

Clippy was our [MailChimp’s] anti-inspiration. We wanted to achieve the opposite of what he did in Microsoft Office. We never wanted Freddie to provide feedback about the app, deliver stats, or tell you when something has gone wrong. He’s not there to help. He’s simply a layer of fun that enhances a usable workflow, and above all, he has to stay out of the way of our busy users.

Because his greetings are randomized, there’s a little surprise awaiting users around every corner of the app.

We had a blast coming up with ridiculous greetings. Initially, we did it to entertain ourselves. Sure, we recognized humor as an important part of our brand that sets us apart from our competition, and we wanted to let our personality shine in the app experience. But the truth is, it was fun to write copy for a talking primate and we were just a touch self-indulgent.

When we launched the new version of the app, we discovered curious things about Freddie’s influence on the user experience. At first we saw tweets (FIG 4.8 [not reproduced here]) about how his greetings brightened the work day.

But what really surprised and excited us was that the random jokes actually helped users complete, long, more complicated task flows (FIG 4.9 [not reproduced here]).