The early-access edition is a not-quite-yet-finished version of the product that is available for free for testing purposes. Minecraft Education Edition works on Windows 10 or OS X El Capitan and requires a free Office 365 Education account.
Minecraft Education Edition enables collaboration by classrooms of up to 30 students without a separate server required. The Camera and Portfolio feature allows students to take screenshots of their work and document development of their projects. Single sign-on capabilities are enabled, and there's a built-in "tutorial world" for guiding players on the details of Minecraft play.
The early-access version is based on feedback from the 100-plus schools and 1,700 students who've been part of the Minecraft Education Edition beta.
The RTM version of Minecraft Education Edition will be available for purchase in September and will cost between $1 and $5 per user per year, depending on the size of the school and qualification for volume-licensing offer.