Why would you need cooperative multiplayer for this curricular? None of the actual goals seem to need it and the article doesn't even hint at Minecraft being played on a server.
The summary mentioned "city planning". For the intent of what they probably want to teach students, it seems likely that they'll do something similar to what I did in the Art Institute, where coordinating with an entire class to make a small town. While this seems very simple, you learn a lot when coordinating the style of buildings, ensuring you have a roadwork that everyone can work with (and fit their buildings with), and so forth.
There is no feedback from Minecraft regarding any of these topics, where as any Sim City will inform you of results caused by your (good/poor) planning, sims will complaint about environmental conditions and even get mad when you start chopping down woodlands, etc.
There's no direct feedback, in many cases, but again, I think the focus in this case is more about interpersonal relationships. Such as, if you knock down all the trees in the area for wood and don't replant, other people will get pissed off at you for making their life harder (or at least view more ugly). Similar for people playing with fire too much; imagine what happens when someone's fireplace isn't properly insulated, and they burn down an entire city block.
There's surprisingly large value in seeing how doing your grunt work affects others, and coordinating to achieve the best result. That's something that Sim City can't achieve, and the emergent aspects for things like resource acquisition make it better suited than Lego.