Apple, Microsoft launching new education products

Soon, your child’s video game habit might not just be a pastime, but homework.

Video game use has grown in the education space in recent years, embraced as a way to make learning fun and engaging. (It can also be beneficial — according to a recent study from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, video game play was shown to increase academic success.)

This fall, two technology innovators — Microsoft and Apple — are launching products geared toward student learning. Here’s what to expect.


Minecraft: Education Edition

From: Microsoft

For several years, thousands of teachers across the globe have been using the uber-popular video game Minecraft in the classroom with the school version, MinecraftEdu, to promote problem-solving, creativity and collaboration, as well as teach math, art history and more. Since Microsoft acquired the open world game, that’s evolved into Minecraft: Education Edition, an update to the school-specific version built based on educator feedback. Over the summer, teachers and students have been able to try out an early version of the product for free (sample lessons include “City planning for population growth” and “Effects of deforestation”) and a final version is set to launch this fall.

More info: Education.minecraft.net


Swift Playgrounds

From: Apple

Apple wants to introduce kids to coding with its free app, Swift Playgrounds, launching this fall on iPad and iOS 10. Essentially a video game, the beginner-friendly app features a series of programming lessons, geared toward middle schoolers. Users complete a series of puzzles and challenges to guide a character through a 3D world, all the while learning core coding concepts and writing real code using Apple’s own programming language, Swift. New challenges will be released post-launch, too, so students can continue to develop their coding skills. Apple is encouraging educators to use its lessons and challenges, and the company will also provide templates so they can make their own. Apple is also working with schools and teachers to incorporate Swift Playgrounds into their curriculums.

More info: Apple.com/swift/playgrounds