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Microsoft makes education version of ‘Minecraft’ tougher to keep up with students’ skill levels

Microsoft now has 2 million licensed users across 115 countries playing the education version of “Minecraft.” But it had to develop a tougher version of the tutorial game because students were too skilled.

It turns out K-12 students are just too skilled at playing computer games. So much so, that Microsoft had to develop a tougher version of its one-hour “Minecraft” tutorial that helps students learn to code.

The company released “Hero’s Journey” this week, to line up with the upcoming Hour of Code event, which will encourage students across the world to complete a free coding tutorial in December.

Microsoft last year released an education version of the popular “Minecraft” game, which allows players to build and explore virtual worlds using block-shaped materials.

Microsoft said it now has 2 million licensed users across 115 countries playing the education version. Schools can buy licenses for $5 per user per year, or can get deals that lower the cost to $1 per user if they buy in large-enough volumes.

“We see a real appetite for game-based learning,” said Deirdre Quarnstrom, general manager of Minecraft’s education edition at Microsoft. The game lets students create their own avatars and learn to solve problems one step at a time, she said.

Microsoft bought “Minecraft” maker Mojang in 2014, and separately bought MinecraftEdu last year. “Minecraft” is just one piece of the company’s efforts in the education technology market, where it faces heated competition from Google, and to a lesser extent Apple.

Microsoft is a sponsor of Seattle organization Code.org, which organizes Hour of Code and develops curriculum to bring computer science education to more schools.

The new “Minecraft” lesson will add an…

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