MinecraftEdu vs Regular Minecraft: The Teacher’s Dilemma
“Should I get MinecraftEdu or regular Minecraft for my classroom?”
That is one of the most common questions from teachers we get here at GamingEdus. The answer is: it depends.
Both versions of Minecraft have their benefits and their drawbacks. This post will outline the pros and cons to each when used in the classroom.
Regular (aka Vanilla) Minecraft in the Classroom
This is the straight off the (digital) shelf version of the game. It’s the one that’s set all those records and made Minecrafters out of millions of kids (and adults). I really like this version of Minecraft and, up until this school year, it was the version I used with my own students.
However, like all things, there is the good and the not so good when it comes to using it in the classroom.
- It’s the “real” Minecraft – students will appreciate that.
- Students can use their personal accounts to play, saving schools money.
- If you know you’re way around plugins, it is very versatile in what you want to do (e.g. anti-griefing, build protections, multiple worlds in a single server and more.)
- Teachers will need to buy an account for each student. At $25 a student that can get expensive (but they can be re-used with different students.)
- Setting up a server at school takes some computer know-how and possibly some network tweaking from your IT folks. Here’s how I set up my first school server in 2011.
- Securely logging in your students can be a hassle. I describe how I keep my Minecraft accounts secure here.
- Cannot run awesome mods like ComputerCraft or qCraft. 🙁
Overall, I really like using vanilla Minecraft. Our Professional Play server for teachers to learn Minecraft and our Multi-School Minecraft server both run vanilla and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
However, this year we launched the Multi-School MinecraftEDU server, which runs Edu and the results, as they say, have been surprising.
MinecraftEdu in the Classroom
MinecraftEdu has come a long way since it was launched. It can now do a lot of cool stuff and makes getting Minecraft in your classroom a snap. For that reason, we launched the Multi-School MinecraftEdu server and I’ve had a lot of fun running around that world with my Grade 1s.
MinecraftEDU brings a lot to the classroom, but there are still areas where it falls down for this gaming educator.
- Easy server set up. Holy wow! Did they get this right. Download and in a few clicks you’re running a virtual world on one of your old library computers.
- Easy controls for non-tech teachers. Give items to students, change world settings and much more with the push of a few buttons. This is doable in vanilla Minecraft, but you need to type some commands.
- Easy logging in for students. They pick their username and they’re in. Simple.
- Mods supported. You can install awesome mods like ComputerCraft, qCraft and much more.
- Custom maps easy to create and install.
- Affordable! [Edit: while Edu is still a great deal, see Joel’s comment below for how the pricing of MinecraftEdu really works. He should know, he’s the guy that made it.]
- It’s not “real” Minecraft. Many of your Minecraft experts won’t be impressed with the limitations of EDU (eg not playing their own characters, teacher’s freezing students, etc.)
- Very little in anti-grief plug-ins or mods students can use to protect their builds (Please, correct me if I’m wrong on this, but I haven’t found one that works with EDU yet.)
- Many plug-ins won’t work (even with the Bukkit Plugins mod). This can limit what you (and your players) can do with your server.
That’s about it!
As you can see, each version has its own benefits and challenges. Which you choose depends on your classroom, your budget and your own computer skills.
Whatever you choose, we can to help you get started. Apply to join our Professional Play Server. Bring your students to one of our Multi-School servers or just drop us a question in the comments.
We’re happy to help you get your game on in the classroom.