After testing it out in classrooms and other educational settings, modder Daniel Ratcliffe and the folks at TeacherGaming have released a mod for Minecraft, ComputerCraftEdu, that aims to teach players basic programming skills.
Given the remarkable sway Minecraft currently holds over the world's youth, the release of this mod has an outsized impact on the state of basic programming education. Microsoft itself recently launched its own hub for educational uses of Minecraft, and TeacherGaming co-founder Joel Levin says the company has been working in conjunction with Microsoft.
ComputerCraftEdu is a streamlined version of Ratcliffe's extant ComputerCraft mod that's designed so that parents and educators can teach young players fundamental coding concepts like loops, conditions, and the nature of debugging.
Players start out by dragging and dropping single commands onto programmable turtle robots in-game, then gradually begin creating more complex sequences of commands and eventually move on to writing and editing actual (simple) code in an editor.
ComputerCraftEdu is free to download and works with any copy of Minecraft or the made-for-classrooms MinecraftEdu on Windows, Mac and Linux.