Top 10 Minecraft Moments from 2021

14 Dec 2021 Goat Update Splash Art

As 2021 comes to a close, the Minecraft Education team is catching our collective breath. It was a year packed with new releases, programs, features, and stories of how people are using Minecraft to teach and learn – all despite continuing challenges faced by much of our community. We admire more than ever your creativity, curiosity, and perseverance. Here’s a look back at 2021 and some of the defining moments we shared, plus several exciting Minecraft worlds for you to explore over the holidays.

1. Expanding Game-based Learning Beyond the Classroom

We introduced the Camps and Clubs update which allows camps, clubs, after-school programs, nonprofits, homeschools, and other organizations to purchase licenses for Minecraft: Education Edition. All that is needed is an Office 365 account and an identity for your organization. Then you’re free to purchase individual licenses for the game, whether that’s for a summer coding camp or a living room full of hands-on homeschoolers. We also launched more great content for at-home learning including this immersive Cambridge English language tutorial.

2. Exploring Indigenous History and Culture

We teamed up with Microsoft Canada, Louis Riel School Division, and several groups of Indigenous elders to introduce Manito Ahbee Aki, an experience where students travel back in time to Manitoba as existed before European contact in North America. Players live amongst the Anishinaabe Peoples to learn and understand how they thrived on this land together while living in harmony with Mother Earth.

Companion learning resources for New Zealand teachers were added to support Ngā Motu, a Māori world for Minecraft: Education Edition, designed to help students better understand te reo Māori, the language of New Zealand’s Indigenous people, launched in 2019. And we celebrated International Day of the World’s Indigenous People in August with this collection of content to support students with worlds and lessons centered on indigenous cultures worldwide.

A small group of Indigenous people stand around a campfire amidst several tipis

3. Showcasing Minecraft at International Climate Conference

Microsoft’s presence at the UN Conference of the Parties (COP26) featured our latest sustainability worlds,Climate Futures. We partnered with the Met Office, the national meteorological service for the UK, to create an experience for learners to explore the effects of climate change on economies, ecosystems, and communities through meaningful stories based on real-world events. These new lessons are a part of our new Climate and Sustainability Subject Kit.

Students learning about Mincraft at International Climate conference

4. Expanding Opportunities in Esports

We launched the Microsoft Education Esports Teacher’s Academy for educators who want to capture the excitement of Esports in the classroom. More than 2,400 educators from 50 countries participated in this three-day training with key learnings for implementing an Esports program at their schools.

The New York City Department of Education, which serves more than one million students, decided to dream big with a district wide Esports challenge using Minecraft: Education Edition. The Battle of the Boroughs challenged students to redesign their city in ways that would reinvigorate and enhance the lives of New Yorkers. Watch the grand finals on Twitch!

BotB Boats and Skyline Art

5. Sustainable Worlds, Rugby Clubs, and Peace with Nature

Over 340 teams of students in Wales competed in a build challenge hosted by Prodigy Learning, the Welsh Rugby Union, and Hwb. Learners designed and built inclusive rugby stadiums in Minecraft: Education Edition. In July, 12 teams made it to the finals hosted virtually and judged virtually at Principality Stadium in Cardiff. The panel of judges included Welsh Rugby Union players Aaron Wainwright and Siwan Lillicrap. The second year of this competition is already underway!

For this year’s Global Build Challenge, we partnered with UNESCO to bring the Peace with Nature Global Build Challenge to learners around the world. Thousands of learners worldwide created short videos highlighting their builds and how to protect our planet, inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

6. Helping Microsoft Hire Neurodiverse Candidates

In celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we shared how Minecraft: Education Edition is being used by the Microsoft Inclusive Hiring team for neurodivergent candidates. Neurodivergent candidates join a customized world in Minecraft to complete challenges as a group and demonstrate skills in teamwork, creative problem-solving, leadership, and communication. To see this in action check out this video.

Microsoft is making Hiring more Inclusive with Minecraft

7. Stories that Inspired Us

Find out how educational technology teacher Lisvette Flores Quiñones implemented Minecraft: Education Edition for her students in Puerto Rico. She engaged students in topics like sustainability and math and provided insights on Immersive Reader and Flipgrid for all types of learners in this blog.

In this blog, teacher from a remote province in Newfoundland shared how students are developing new skills, values, and attitudes with Minecraft, and enjoying a more self-directed approach to learning.

Saher Hirji, Minecraft’s Director of Web and Live Operations, is from Pakistan and has a special appreciation for the transformative power of education for women. In this story, Saher shared why education for girls is so important to her and how our Malala lesson in the Good Trouble collection tackles this subject.

Minecraft Live celebrated all things Minecraft in October and student projects from around the world were featured in this video. Inspire your classroom to build a better world in Minecraft: Education Edition!

8. Celebrating Five Years of Minecraft: Education Edition with the GOAT Update

Last month, we launched the greatest update of all time, aka the GOAT Update, for Minecraft: Education Edition. If you haven’t already, check out all the fun new mobs and features including the Nether and Part 1 of the Caves and Cliffs Update. There are many new critters in the game, from goats who frequent the snowy mountain peaks to the axolotl that provides regeneration deep in the sea. Experiment with copper to craft lightning rods and learn about oxidation. Watch this community playthrough to learn more.

Axolotls swimming in the Water

9. Time Traveling in a New Minecraft Hour of Code

Hour of Code: TimeCraft invites students to travel back in time and correct mysterious mishaps throughout history. This lesson introduces ten fun puzzles with some of history's greatest innovators and inventions in science, architecture, music, and engineering. Hour of Code is a great introduction to coding and we have 200 hours of Computer Science content to help continue your journey. You can also watch the recording of Flipgrid Live: Beyond the Game to hear from Minecraft engineers Agnes Larsson and Afeez Bello.

Minecraft engineers Agnes Larsson and Afeez Bello participated in the Hour of Code!

10. Welcome New Educators to the Community

Each month we welcome new cohorts of Global Minecraft Mentors who have committed to supporting other teachers in their Minecraft journeys. This year we had more than 250 educators join the Mentor program. It was our biggest year yet of community growth and we are grateful for all the adventurous, passionate teachers who took the plunge and got certified!

Mentors have a chance to connect and build relationships with some of the most inspiring game-based learning educators and experts from around the world. In addition, Mentors gain early access to new features and sign-ups for Beta opportunities. Over the coming weeks as you spend some time resting and recuperating before the new year, we encourage you to explore the Mentor program. You are welcome to join our community, attend the Minecraft: Education Edition Teacher Academy, then join our Global Mentor Community to help others adopt game-based learning.