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​Minecraft Education Edition coming Nov 1 to a school near you

For $5 a year, students will be able to explore Minecraft's blocky virtual world, with teachers teleporting in to help tackle school projects.

Microsoft/Mojang

Microsoft on November 1 will begin selling Minecraft Education Edition. The school-specific version of its megahit video game can help kids learn even as it turns them into new Microsoft customers.

The software will cost $5 per student per year, but it can also be purchased at the school district level, Microsoft said in an email to prospective customers Thursday. The Redmond, Washington-based company released an early-access test version of Minecraft Education Edition in June. It runs on Windows or Mac computers but requires players to sign up for a free Office 365 Education account.

"We're rolling out even more hot stuff in the November release build," Marsh Davies, a member of Microsoft's Mojang studio, which develops the game, said in a blog post ahead of the Minecon conference this week. That'll include the newest features like pistons and redstone circuitry for mechanical and electrical constructions, he said, and a classroom mode companion app for teachers overseeing their students.

Microsoft Education Edition turns the video game into a tool for schools.

Microsoft Education Edition turns the video game into a tool for schools.

Microsoft/Mojang

Microsoft also is creating lesson plans, activities and other material for teachers.

Tech giants are trying to court the next generation through educational products. Apple, for instance, just released a tutorial app called Swift Playgrounds to teach its programming language. With its open-ended worlds, Minecraft can be used to teach everything from logic circuits to art history.

In Minecraft, blocky characters explore a blocky landscape with trees, mountains, lakes and underground resources that can be crafted into weapons and buildings that keep monsters called mobs at bay. You can play in a survival mode or a more open-ended creative mode with infinite resources. Microsoft and Mojang have sold more than 100 millions of copies of Minecraft.