Image courtesy JCPS

Since its release in 2011, the sandbox video game Minecraft, in which players build a virtual world, has become the best-selling video game of all time. Now Microsoft is using Minecraft as an Immersive Education Creative Computing platform for K-12 schools. JCPS was one of only three districts in the world chosen to pilot the Minecraft Education Edition (MEE) on Chromebooks.

Now the school district has become the global leader in getting kids to leverage Minecraft for learning during Non-Tradition Instruction (NTI).

Heather G. Warrell, Executive Administrator for Digital Innovation at JCPS, who leads all of its digital strategies, told Louisville Future, “Microsoft partnered with Google to give kids the opportunity to do Minecraft on Chromebooks. We have distributed over 70,000 Chromebooks to students in JCPS and started training teachers with Minecraft boot camps where they could get certified in how to integrate Minecraft into their instructional design.”

Susie Tinker, the Director of Microsoft’s Minecraft Learning Platforms explained why JCPS was chosen:

“JCPS was chosen to be a pilot district to test Minecraft: Education Edition on Chromebook because they have been strong partners with the Minecraft Education team. Their leadership team supports Game Based Learning and M:EE, and provides opportunities for educators from across subjects and grade levels to receive professional development on how to use M:EE to promote STEM learning and engagement,” Tinker told Louisville Future. “The Minecraft Education team knew that JCPS had the experience needed to successfully pilot the application in classrooms and provide the feedback needed to make the product and deployment process as easy as possible.”

And it appears to be the right choice. As of today, 12,000 JCPS students and teachers are using the platform. With the platform, students are building virtual worlds to demonstrate learning. “Some kids use poster boards or dioramas to demonstrate what they’re learning. These Chromebooks offer a different way to do that. Third-graders at Alex R. Kennedy Elementary, for example, are building a Minecraft animal shelter. In science, they’re learning how to use Minecraft to build a hurricane-proof house,” Warrell said.

James Unger is the Zone 2STC Leader for JCPS. He told us, “While it is certainly advantageous for Microsoft to field-test their software in real-world scenarios, we in JCPS gain experiences otherwise unavailable. Our students, teachers, and IT3 department get to make decisions and suggestions that affect a global product’s final outcome. This is so powerful for students!”