Code.org runs a program called Hour of Code, which aims to make computer programming more accessible and fun for students across the nation. The core of the program are coding tutorials disguised as bite-sized games. Unlike most games, students must input a string of commands beforehand, then watch as their character does what they told them to do — and find success, hopefully. Students learn how to think in terms of programming, making the program invaluable in grabbing the attention of young girls and minority students who might otherwise stay away from learning about programming.
While anyone can learn from an Hour of Code tutorial, they’re made mostly for kids. And, as we know, kids love Minecraft. Yesterday, Microsoft and Code.org released a brand new Minecraft-themed tutorial. It’s not the first one — they already have one Minecraft tutorial that had kids play the game using programming commands. This new tutorial puts kids into the role of the developer — step by step, Minecraft Hour of Code Designer introduces basic commands that game developers use to spawn creatures into games and tell them how to act. At the end, kids have enough tools to develop their own mini-Minecraft level.
Hour of Code was founded on the idea that an hour of coding practice can help get kids interested in and prepared for a career in programming. The tutorials don’t always take an hour, but they usually allow for some kind of free play at the end to let kids be creative, as the Minecraft Designer tutorial does by letting kids build their own levels. All of the tutorials can be found on Code.org for free, and can easily be understood and accessed by teachers who want to introduce coding to their students.
This is only the latest way Microsoft has used Minecraft to help teachers and students. The company released Minecraft: Education Edition to teachers in June of this year, which can be used to teach lessons in a broader base of subjects.