When Minecraft was first released in 2011, the sandbox adventure game became an instant hit among players of all ages—eventually growing to be the second best-selling video game of all time. For its younger players in particular, parents and educators were pleased with its focus on creativity, physics, design and problem solving.
That’s why Microsoft created Minecraft: Education Edition, released in November 2016, for use in the classroom. This iteration of the game allows educators to teach math, science, social skills, history and coding in a way that excited and educates kids.
In order to support the global launch of the game, digital agency POSSIBLE tackled the challenge of creating a website for teachers who leverage the game in their classrooms. The platform offers robust support and a community resource for these educators, providing a place for them to find and share lesson plans, ideas, worlds, mentoring opportunities and tips for using the game most effectively for student success.
Here, HOW talks with POSSIBLE about the challenges and rewards of creating a dynamic, branded experience that helps teachers make the most of Minecraft: Education Edition.
What special considerations were required for this site design?
Education is changing. Teachers are trying out new ways to get their students excited to learn. Minecraft: Education Edition is an education tool that not only helps teach modern concepts around coding, and communal-based learning, but also basics in math, science, geography, and other traditional courseware. For the site design, we needed to consider how to convey this to teachers and school administrators. Minecraft: Education Edition has to be accepted as not just a fun activity for students, but aide a teacher’s day-to-day teaching methods. The site had to inspire teachers to not only try the game for their classroom, but also join and participate with other educators using Minecraft: Education Edition.
Screenshots from the Minecraft Educator community site Click to enlarge.
What challenges did you face when taking on this project?
The Minecraft Educator community has existed long before the creation of Minecraft: Education Edition. Creating a space for this community to feel welcome and supported was a challenge that POSSIBLE was ready to take on. We wanted to provide a safe space that also helped teachers share lesson plans along with their expertise in using Minecraft in their classrooms. This community is also a great resource for new Minecraftteachers, and having it available on the same website makes it easy.
Were there any past projects that helped POSSIBLE prepare for taking on this task?
POSSIBLE has a rich history in creating digital solutions for a wide range of clients. Our expertise in building responsive, flexible, content-driven, digital platforms and applications allows us to create solutions that meet the needs of our audiences while also building engaging experiences in today’s connected world.
How did you ensure that the site would capture the creative and kid-centric spirit of the Minecraft brand while also appealing to educators?
We took Minecraft’s fun, quirky and creative visual approach and made sure our message spoke to educators while also immersing them in the brand. It was important for us to get teachers to see themselves and their classroom in the Minecraft world itself. We show a combination of real and immersive, branded photography where students and teachers are collaborating together over the game paired with messaging around the benefits of using the game as a tool in a classroom environment. The site took a “guide at your side” approach with educators, and illustrating this approach was key to success within the content and framework of the site.
What community and support resources does the site offer to educators who leverage Minecraft: Education Edition?
A goal for the website was to embrace educators with as much information about the game and its potential to benefit the classroom for those new to the game as well as those who have already embraced it in their school. The website features events, trainings, and education specific Minecraft Worlds, as well as community submitted lesson plans and discussions. As part of this community, users can also create their own profile and connect and communicate with other educators from around the world to share with.
How is the site (and Minecraft: Education Edition) being promoted to educators who are interested in incorporating the game into their lessons? How do they go about setting this up as an option for their students?
We’ve found the best way to introduce Minecraft: Education Edition is through hands on experience at events, meetings, webinars, and livestreams. At each of these, and on all marketing materials, we promote the robustness of our website to help deepen understanding of the product, find additional training materials, information on how to get started, and most importantly take advantage of the support of other educators within our community to ensure their experience with Minecraft: Education Edition in their classroom is a success.
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