May 20 2024

Want to Get Younger Students Started on Esports? Try Minecraft Education.

Here’s how schools can amp up the educational version of the wildly popular Minecraft game for competition.

Like digital screens built from tiny pixels, Minecraft is a virtual world of pixelated landscapes crafted by players using digital building blocks. Playing Minecraft is like playing with digital Lego bricks: Players build elaborate structures and interact within blocky landscapes, either solo or with friends. Its open-ended nature, paired with straightforward yet deep gameplay, fosters creativity, problem-solving and collaboration. Minecraft is a game with no rules and no endgame. Players are limited only by their imagination.

Owned by Microsoft and designed specifically for formal educational settings, Minecraft Education makes game-based learning a reality for educators. Teachers can use the game as a learning tool with endless possibilities.

Picture students crafting detailed models of plant and animal cells to explore biology concepts, or designing a creature perfectly adapted to its environment to understand evolution. It is learning by doing in a virtual world that engages and excites.

Click the banner to see how one district supercharged its esports program.


Minecraft Education includes unique features intended to enhance learning. One of the game’s standout features is the Book and Quill tool, which simplifies for students the process of documenting and submitting projects directly to teachers, combining visuals of their builds with written explanations.

Why Minecraft Education Makes a Great Entry Point to Esports

Esports is competitive, organized video gaming. There are many games that can be used for esports, but Minecraft Education is a great gateway into the world of esports. First, Minecraft Education’s design, which is tailored for school use, ensures all of the privacy and security boxes are checked. This makes it a safe choice for integrating into school programs.

RELATED: How one teacher uses Minecraft Education for lessons in social justice.

Its foundation in educational gaming allows teachers to adopt esports as an engaging teaching strategy. As the career and technical education coordinator at Fresno Unified School District, Julie Mavrogeorge supervised the district’s esports programming. Fresno Unified actively uses Minecraft Education across the district.

“The build topics are endless,” says Mavrogeorge, who is now the program implementation coordinator for Gameplan, a company that promotes learning through esports. “The teacher can easily align builds with English, mathematics, science, social studies or any imaginable topic.”

Mavrogeorge highlights the broad appeal of Minecraft, noting its popularity among students as young as first grade. “In my experience, most students have already played Minecraft by the time they hit third grade. In many cases, students as young as 4 and 5 have played Minecraft," she says.

Julie Mavrogeorge
Fresno creates divisions within its own district, allowing schools to enter multiple teams with one coach.”

Julie Mavrogeorge Technical Education Coordinator, Fresno Unified School District

At Fresno Unified, teachers implement the game from grades one through eight, with a focus on competitive esports in grades three through eight, demonstrating Minecraft Education’s versatility across different age groups.

Minecraft Education’s esports resources further enrich this experience, offering predesigned environments, known as Make & Model worlds, tailored for competitive play. These worlds facilitate “build battles”; Mavrogeorge says these prebuilt worlds make it exceptionally easy to organize students into teams for practice, learning or competition.

Another advantage of the game for esports is its accessibility. Unlike many esports games that require high-end gaming devices, Minecraft Education is available on all major operating systems: Windows, macOS, iOS and Android (including Android-enabled Chromebooks). This inclusivity ensures that all students can participate, regardless of the technology available to them.

Minecraft Education's multiplayer mode enhances the esports experience by allowing teams to collaborate and compete in a secure environment. The specially designed esports worlds support simultaneous building activities.

DIVE DEEPER: These 5 hidden building blocks make successful scholastic esports programs.

How to Get Started with Minecraft Education

Embarking on the Minecraft Education journey in your district begins with a few steps to ensure everything is set up for success.

Licensing and setup: Make sure to address the licensing requirements for Minecraft Education. Districts with an existing Microsoft licensing agreement may already have access to Minecraft Education licenses for teachers and students, typically included in A3 level plans and above. If your district isn't covered under such an agreement, individual licenses are available. For detailed information on licensing, visit the Minecraft Education website and reach out to your district’s Microsoft representative.

Installation: Download and install Minecraft Education on the devices you plan to use. To enable multiplayer mode, it’s crucial that all devices run the most current version of the game.

Other considerations: Touch-screen devices don’t need additional equipment. However, if your students will be using devices with keyboard and mouse inputs, providing external mice or game controllers can make building in Minecraft easier.


The number of Minecraft copies sold worldwide, surpassed only by the bestselling video game of all time, Tetris

Source:, “Minecraft Just Surpassed 300 Million Sales — Here’s The Only Video Game Still Beating It,” Oct. 16, 2023

Launching Your Minecraft Education Esports Program

Minecraft Education offers versatile entry points into esports, with various options for customizable gameplay.

Classroom build battles: Host competitions within classrooms, aligning builds to specific learning outcomes.

Districtwide competitions: Organize competitions between schools within your district. This is a great starting point for organized esports. “Fresno creates divisions within its own district, allowing schools to enter multiple teams with one coach,” Mavrogeorge says.

Interdistrict competitions: The next step could involve connecting with other districts and clubs for broader competitions. Organizations like NASEF can help facilitate these connections.  

“I strongly encourage teachers to join the Minecraft Education Ambassadors Community on Facebook,” Mavrogeorge says. “This will connect them with other educators from across the world who are within the same time zone. It is very easy to find other schools, nonprofit organizations and individual teachers who are eager to play competitive or club-based Minecraft Education esports.”

RECVISUAL/Getty Images

Learn from Your Peers

What can you glean about security from other IT pros? Check out new CDW research and insight from our experts.