Microsoft, Minecraft, and Kids

Code.org annually sponsors an Hour of Code (December 7th to the 13th will be the third one). The goal is to try to teach kids the basics of computer science in just an hour. Microsoft has announced they will team with Code.org to bring Minecraft-based lessons to this year’s hour.

It makes sense when you remember that Microsoft bought Mojang (the company behind Minecraft) last year. Users can sign up for the free Hour of Code Minecraft module and learn how to make characters adventure through a Minecraft world using programming. There are other themed modules, too, including Star Wars, Frozen, and other kid-attracting motifs. There’s also a lot of videos (like the one below) that explain why you might want to learn about computer science.

If you think Minecraft isn’t a sufficient programming language, don’t be so sure. There are many Minecraft CPUs out there as well as a (very slow) word processor. If you want real hardware, you might check out our review of Minecraft-related projects from earlier this year.

27 thoughts on “Microsoft, Minecraft, and Kids

    1. Well obviously this is the most embarrassing spell check catastrophe you can have and it’s time to change screen name as there is no edit button here.

      So it just leaves one question – why is that word even in your spell checker in the first place? – some ‘friendly’ assistance from some colleagues?

  1. These “learn to code” platforms are as interesting as a dead fish that has been lying in the sun for too long.

    Bring back the coded fight bots. And graphics wow have you seen the graphics of these coding platforms? they might as well be out of the eighties, they have the sophistication of tile graphics gone wrong.

    If this is the best we can to to attract people to coding then we lost the cyber war.

    1. “These “learn to code” platforms are as interesting as a dead fish that has been lying in the sun for too long.”
      You forgot to pre-load that statement with “In my opinion”
      I have an 11 year old daughter who watches hours and hours of videos of things being made in minecraft. She’s learned about basic logic circuits and how to use them to control things.
      I think it’s great that microsoft have recognised how people are using minecraft and want to push that further, and it’s nice that a target audience want to get involved in coding.
      My only hope is that while they’re trying to learn, they don’t bump into too many examples of people who want to crush the excitement out of everything they do…

    2. Realy? I liked it back when I was little. Hope frozen might interest my nieces into programming. What other ways are there to get them excited these days with their Ipads, Frozen videos everywhere and Minecraft being teached at school (Edu edition)

      1. I too enjoyed poking around on a BBC Acorn back when I was at school, but I was already interested in computers and tinkering with programming.
        I think it’s easy to forget that using something like miencraft, for some, is a gentle steer towards programming and making them think that the thing they do for fun, could turn into a useful life skill.

    3. Minecraft is still a huge thing with kids. Like one of the other posters mentioned, many kids will even sit and watch hours of other people playing the game. Although I think FNAF is currently a bigger “thing” than Minecraft. I have a niece that keeps me informed of these things.

    4. Up to this day, I still don’t get why people bash the graphics of Minecraft. It’s blocky for the sake of being blocky, because it is a world made of blocks for crying out loud!

      1. I see the blocky environment as being a playground where the person learning does not have to focus on the details to create something. They can focus on the application first, details can come with the next step in learning.

    5. Well I looked at the platforms on “hour of code” some time ago and the graphics look like they were done (drag and drop) by some 10 year old. A lot of it was what we once called turtle graphics.

      Have a look at some better ones that might not have *BOTH* top graphics and complexity but at least do well with one and not so bad with the other –

      LightBot – https://lightbot.com/
      Manufactoria – http://pleasingfungus.com/Manufactoria/
      The Codex of Alchemical Engineering – http://www.zachtronics.com/the-codex-of-alchemical-engineering/

  2. Speaking as a teacher who does coding with young children, I do think there’s something a bit wrong with this approach. If it’s like the other hour of code modules that use well known children’s characters, it’s too much bait and not enough hook. Minecraft on the PC and RPI is a great intro coding skills for kids as they learn how to use command blocks. Some of my students are trying to teach themselves Java so that they can create mods. It works for kids who, y’know, actually like minecraft a lot. However, if you disguise learning as an entertainment product, you are likely to create a frustrating situation once the kid realizes that learning to code is actually work. We can make the work fun and playful, but it still takes more energy and creativity than playing a video game, watching a movie or reading a book. My approach is to not insult the intelligence of students and say “You want to make a game? Awesome. It’s going to be hard, and you won’t make the game of your dreams of day one, but you will get there if you try.”

    Painting mickey mouse on the side of a violin might catch a child’s attention, but it won’t teach them a lifelong love of music. Kids know what work is. They know it has rewards. They don’t need to be tricked.

    /rant

  3. I recently threw myself into mincraft as see its potential in terms of teaching my kids. I have two daughters who are both highly interested but have zero knowledge about tech. As far as I can see its a fantastic resource. I am very interested in this.

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