An educational edition of hit game/toy/epic/religion Minecraft is in beta testing, reports The Verge, and teachers are invited to get their hands on it early.
Minecraft: Education Edition is almost identical to standard Minecraft, but it includes a handful of features designed for the classroom. A couple smaller features were announced in January — like an in-game camera for taking screenshots — and some more substantial ones are being announced today. That includes adding in-game chalkboards that can display large blocks of text and letting teachers place characters that'll say things when a student walks up to them.
The biggest new feature won't come until September, when the game launches. It's called Classroom Mode, and it's essentially a control panel for teachers. Teachers will be able to use the interface to grant resources to students, view where everyone is on a map, send chat messages, and teleport people to specific places, which will be useful should students run off or get lost.
Classroom mode alone looks great for improving multiplayer in general: