We've been "messing" around with MineCraftEdu in school for a few years now. I've run several clubs focussing on developing pupils creativity and teamwork skills and over time they've created quite an impressive city world. I don't find it a gimmick, and I don't find it a distraction, as has been claimed recently by one or two educational "experts". In fact, I find that it motivates pupils to produce outstanding work.
For a long time, I've wanted to see what else we could do with the work that has been created. It's alright having an amazing world that pupils who log onto the server can see, explore and add too, but no one else gets to see their work. Yes, I've created a display in the suite with screenshots of their creations, and added a birds eye map of the world, but there were aspects I always wanted to make possible - seeing the world in a 3D, not a birds eye view, and being able to recreate items from their virtual world in real life.
And this weekend I achieved both of these after discovering two great pieces of software online. The first - MCMap - has allowed me to see the world in an isometric view. When I really zoom into the image it creates, it reminds me of computer games from the 1980's. The pixellated view is somehow faintly homely of those great ZXSpectrum days!
The second piece of software - Mineways - converts a world into an isometric view from which a specific area, object or building can be selected. The software then creates a 3D version of that area, object or building that can be printed out using a 3D.
As we have a 3D printer sitting in my classroom it seemed like something that had to be done, and so I tested the idea by 3D printing the Minecraft school building that a group of children created last year.
Minecraft Design | 3D Render | Printed Result
I can now imagine pupils designing a Minecraft object on paper, then creating their design within the Minecraft world before holding a 3D printed version of it in their hands.