Overview

This document assumes that you know about (or have even played!) Minecraft. You may have heard through the grapevine about MinecraftEdu, which adds on features handy for classrooms onto Minecraft, but you aren't sure how to get started. People have been using MinecraftEdu in the classroom for lots of different lessons but to me the allure boils down to the ease at which you can create a 3D world to encourage collaboration with and between students to model concepts and things from real life, create virtual worlds, or even explore concepts in math and science! If you were into Legos as a young engineer, there's a good chance you'll be hooked on MinecraftEdu.
Example of an epic build.
Example of an epic build.


Architecture
Minecraft and MinecraftEdu is a set of client and server applications programmed using Java to allow them to run on a wide variety of hardware and operating systems. The server component is installed somewhere, typically on one of three places:
  • A workstation inside of your classroom or somewhere else on the school's LAN (what I would call a "computer lab" install)
  • A server (or virtual server) managed by your school technology support staff ("local server")
  • A virtual server hosted somewhere outside of your school ("in the cloud")
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Which Should I Go With?

If you're new to Minecraft / MinecraftEdu, or you're not comfortable with the idea of managing servers remotely using the command line (using tools such as ssh and writing bash scripts), then I would start off with the "computer lab" environment within your own classroom. The MinecraftEdu Launcher / MinecraftEdu Servertool works well with this type of setup and makes your life easier. If you were interested in working with students in schools outside of your own network, I would advise going with the cloud based solution.


Modules

The Minecraft / MinecraftEdu client and server are highly extensible pieces of software that allow for modules that change the experience for the user in a myriad of ways. It seems that anything that you can think of can be modified through modules. I'll be updating this page over the next few months adding information concerning mods that I find particularly useful.

Costs

I put together a spreadsheet using Google Docs that shows the estimated costs for a classroom to get online with MinecraftEdu their first year using the "cloud" based solution, thus allowing for individuals to easily connect from anywhere on the Internet. Make a copy and manipulate the variables to meet your own needs. At a minimum, one Minecraft license per concurrent user, and one MinecraftEdu server module license per school is required.


More Information

Both Minecraft and MinecraftEdu provide tons of material in wiki form. The people over at MinecraftEdu have been quick to respond when I've had questions, particularly concerning purchasing. There are many MinecraftEdu videos, Joel Levin's YouTube channel is a good place to get started. Or just search.