Learn Coding by MineCraft, for Childs – Vallejo Tech Zone
Just a week after announcing a partnership with the “Star Wars” franchise, Seattle coding education company Code.org has cemented another high-profile partner. Microsoft has announced a partnership with Code.org that will see Minecraft arrive on the education agenda.
Mojang, the Sweden-based game development studio that shot to prominence due to its work on Minecraft, was acquired by Microsoft for $2.5 billion last year
Founded in 2013, Code.org is a non-profit organization that seeks to encourage computer science uptake in schools, while also offering coding lessons through its own website. Now, Code.org is offering a Minecraft coding tutorial to mark its third annual Hour of Code campaign, which will run from December 7 -13, during Computer Science Education Week.
“Minecraft,” the popular world-building game that Microsoft acquired last year, has been the most requested game by Code.org students, said Code-org co-founder Hadi Partovi.
“Kids write thank-you cards after doing tutorials in classrooms and they say, ‘Please do ‘Minecraft,’?” Partovi said.
Microsoft is one of Code.org’s largest donors, having donated more than $3 million to the nonprofit, and the Redmond company let Code.org use the “Minecraft” name for free. Microsoft also provided developers who helped create the tutorial.
Microsoft has been looking at ways to incorporate the game into education since January, said Deirdre Quarnstrom, director of Minecraft Education at Microsoft.
“We really see coding and computer science literacy as relevant in an increasingly digital world,” she said.
Code.org develops online tutorials aimed at kids, and it previously announced “Frozen” and “Star Wars”-themed lessons
The nonprofit, which also works to bring computer science education to all U.S. high schools, said its training program is now in about 600 high schools.
The “Minecraft” tutorial will take students through 14 different challenges that teach simple commands using a drag-and-drop format. The final level is a “free play” session where students can build shelter, clear the environment, or complete several other acts. That level was designed to be fun and keep kids coming back to play, Quarnstrom said.
Code.org promotes Hour of Code during Computer Science Education Week in early December, but the tutorials are available year-round.
Aimed at learners aged six years and over, the tutorial introduces budding programmers to the basics of coding within the Minecraft platform. Gamers are then given a set of 14 challenges to dig into the coding concepts they learned during the tutorial.
“A core part of our mission to empower every person on the planet is equipping youth with computational thinking and problem-solving skills to succeed in an increasingly digital world,” said Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO. “With ‘Minecraft’ and Code.org, we aim to spark creativity in the next generation of innovators in a way that is natural, collaborative and fun.”
Microsoft will also be leading “thousands” of Hour of Code events across the globe, which will be hosted in Microsoft stores, offices, among other facilities.
Given the enduring popularity of Minecraft across many age groups and demographics, the tie-up does make a lot of sense, as it lets kids apply their learning to something they understand. “This year’s ‘Minecraft’ tutorial will empower millions of learners around the world to explore how a game they love actually works and will inspire them to impact the world by creating their own technology or apps,” said Code.org co-founder and CEO Hadi Partovi.
They’ve built a tutorial that students across the world can use during Code.org’s annual Hour of Code event in December. Microsoft knows how much kids love the wildly popular game, which the company bought through its $2.5 billion Mojang acquisition in 2014, so it volunteered Minecraft for the cause.
The tutorial, which is available now for free, walks students through 14 levels
It looks and feels like the Minecraft game that kids are so familiar with, but they have to use basic computer science principles to play. Students click and drag blocks to form a string of commands. They click “run” and their character carries out the actions.
Code.org co-founder Hadi Partovi explains that these kinds of block commands are how most computer programmers first learn the basics. But he said the Hour of Code event, which tries to get kids around the world to spend one hour learning to code during Computer Science Education Week every year, is about much more than learning the basics.
“The goal of one hour is to teach you that this is something that you can do and it’s more fun than you thought. Frankly, it’s to hook you to want to learn more,” Partovi said. “The stereotypes you hear in pop culture make people think this is just for one group. We want to break those stereotypes, demystify the field and break the barrier of intimidation and show this is fun.”
More than 100 million students participated in the Hour of Code during its first two years, and the third edition is set to kick off Dec. 7. There will be tutorials based on a few different kid-friendly themes, including Frozen and Star Wars.
But Partovi said Minecraft has been the No. 1 request he’s heard for years.
After teaching a coding class during last year’s event, Partovi said he was given a stack of thank you cards from the students. More than half, he said, contained some kind of reference to the blockbuster game.
“On some of the cards, they wrote only one word: ‘Minecraft,’” Partovi said. “So needless to say, the demand from students to do something like this, and from their parents, is extremely high. … Literally as soon as I found out [Microsoft was acquiring Mojang], I started the dialog. This has been the most requested thing.”
The third Hour of Code campaign, which begins Dec. 7, is on track to see a huge increase of participants during computer science week, Partovi said. Last year, about 70,000 teachers signed up to host an Hour of Code event by the beginning of the computer science week. This year, more than 100,000 teachers have signed up and there are still three weeks to go.
Code.org estimates that more than 100 million students have tried the Hour of Code tutorial.