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Secondary schools in NI to receive free copies of Minecraft

Educational version of Mojang's blockbuster going to 200 schools

200 Secondary schools in Northern Ireland will receive free download codes for MinecraftEdu, a special educational version of the Microsoft-owned smash hit. Pupils will use the game to learn about subjects ranging from architecture to sustainable living and agriculture.

The copies are being distributed by CultureTECH, an annual festival organised in Northern Ireland by the government's department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.

"The level of engagement is the first thing you notice," CultureTECH's Mark Nagurski told The Guardian. "This is work that the kids really want to do and if you're able to harness that enthusiasm, energy and creativity you end up with a pretty significant learning opportunity.

"The other exciting thing for us is the scalability and 'sharability' that Minecraft offers. If someone creates an engaging way of teaching, say, ancient history, using Minecraft, that can immediately be shared with all the other teachers using the game. You can already see that [happening] with things like Computercraft and we hope this project will add significantly to that resource."

Training and support will be provided for teachers using the game in the classroom, but it seems quite unlikely that there'll be many students who'll need guidance: over 60 million copies of Minecraft have been downloaded across PC, console and mobile platforms since its launch in 2011.