Vance Stevens presents ‘lightning talk’ on Engaging students in gamified classrooms using Minecraft

Learning2gether Episode 395

Vance Stevens’s proposal to present virtually in the lightning talks portion of the Games and Learning Community Group session at EDUCAUSE (in Denver this year) was recently accepted. The Games and Learning Community Group session took place on Thursday, November 1 at 9:45am-11:15am MT in Meeting Room 403.

According to the organizers, “lightning talks are limited to 5 minutes and should include easy ways for attendees to learn more about the topic if interested. This may include your contact information, links to additional resources, or a copy of the presentation.” They go on to say, “live demos at a conference can be tricky, especially if they require a solid internet connection. You may wish to record videos as an alternative to streaming or live demos.” In the end they requested a video and were reluctant to deal with live presenters at a distance.

The didn’t limit the number of characters for the title of the talk, so I made it descriptive …

Learn to engage your students in a gamified classroom through experiencing the participatory culture inherent in Minecraft by interacting with like-minded teaching peers in EVO Minecraft MOOC

Minecraft is a game that for the past decade has caught and sustained the attention of teachers wanting to introduce elements of gamification into their classrooms. However, there are two steep hurdles for teachers: (1) the complexity and depth of the game itself, and (2) understanding how students will interact and communicate with each other in promoting their self-directed critical and collaborative learning. EVO Minecraft MOOC is preparing to enter its 5th year engaging teachers hands-on with peers in the participatory culture their students will experience when playing the game of Minecraft. This presentation explains how you can join us.

The recorded talk makes a handy trailer for a talk I’m scheduled to give at WorldCALL 2018 at 3pm on Friday, November 16 in Concepción, Chile. The talk is due to last only 30 minutes and I have just been informed that

  1. I must bring a Microsoft PPT or PDF of  my slides on a thumb drive to Concepción and submit it to technical staff there in person at least 3 hours prior to my talk,
  2. The presentation will be loaded by technical staff onto the computer in the presentation room where I will be, and
  3. No presenter(s) is(are) allowed to use their own device to give their presentation

This is a bit limiting. I’m surprised that at a WorldCALL conference there would not be some means of uploading these files online. Using thumb drives where so many presenters will be inserting them into the same computers is a bit promiscuous, though I presume they feel they have protected their environment. Also it means that all presentations, both those presented and those attended when the presenter is not presenting, will be subject to gradual death by PowerPoint. I like to liven PPT up with video, especially when my topic is Minecraft, and possibly even demo the game from the podium, maybe even with other participants joining me online. Also I prefer to put my slides at Google Docs and present from a tablet. I like to walk about and swipe the screen untethered from the podium and the mouse attached to the computer there, much easier to engage with an audience that way. So I’m disappointed that scope for creativity will be constrained for all concerned, but that’s their concepcion of WordCALL, and I’ll do my best to make my part as interesting as I can; the topic is one I’m passionate about 🙂

At any rate, here are the title, abstract, and summary of my talk coming up in Chile

Gamifying teacher professional development through Minecraft MOOC


EVO Minecraft MOOC is an ongoing community of practice of language teaching practitioners which invites newcomers to join in every January / February and then continues throughout the year with a dedicated group of teaching peers who have been interacting online in Minecraft for the past 4 years. This presentation explains how the group was formed, how it functions, and what we have learned about gamifying learning by experiencing it ourselves when playing the game Minecraft with one another. More importantly we reflect continually on how this informs our approach to teaching and learning. This presentation shares our insights and perspectives with our audience and invites them to join us online if they wish to learn more about what gamification feels like as a learning experience.


Electronic Village Online is an annual teacher training event run under the auspices of TESOL CALL-IS. EVO Minecraft MOOC is a 5-week session that has taken place in Minecraft, a wiki, and Google+ Community space each Jan / Feb since 2015. The presenter conceived the idea for EVO Minecraft MOOC as a way that he himself could develop expertise in the game and thereby use it with students. Other teachers were attracted to the concept, including some who had some experience in the game. Participants were attracted to the session for the same reasons — not that their learning paths had been prescribed for them in a neatly pre-set syllabus but that by entering the “game” or session, learning would happen for them in a way that participants would come to understand by experiencing the process that Ito et al (2010) characterize as “hanging out, messing around, and geeking out.”

We have found that Minecraft is capable of reversing the normal student teacher dichotomy whereby teachers traditionally are assumed to know more than their students. We have found through the experience of participants in our EVO session that that participants tend to take charge of their learning by guiding one another in the vagaries of the game.

This presentation explains what teachers (who are learning about the game through the experience of playing it as learners) are learning about designing worlds within the game context that will meet their curriculum objectives and create an engaging and enjoyable experience and task-based environment for learners. But above all, the paper explores how teachers can be made aware of the affordances of Minecraft by creating such spaces for one another and interacting in those spaces. It also serves as an example of how we teachers can use what we have learned through our experience with MOOCs to form communities of practice to reboot our own learning, using the community as curriculum (Cormier, 2008).

Ergo …

It seems that if I said pretty much that, reworded more conversationally and with some elaboration, this would take about 5 minutes

I worked on that part in a Google Doc (this one)

The organizers of the Educause event have since reported back that my lightning talk appeared in a slide presentation shown at the conference and shared here:

Sandra Annette Rogers wrote me: I thought you might want to see the Educause Games & Learning community group meeting slides that included your lightning talk on slide 21-22. I heard there were about 30 participants.

Here are the slides introducing the event, and what my slides 21-22 looked like





Slide 22 embeds our video, so in theory it should be possible for attendees and others to enjoy our asynchronous presentation.


Earlier events


1300 start Sun Oct 7 thru Nov 4 – Teaching Online with Heike Philp – a paid iTDi course


Mon-Fri Oct 15-19 4th Annual Pearson ELT Webinar Series

To see the lineup and register (free, but required) for the events

I replicated the table of presentations here so I can see when they are and work them into a schedule on this page and convert times to UTC.

Date Time Session Presenter
Monday, October 15, 2018 12:00 p.m. EDT = 1600 UTC 21st Century Teaching and the Global Scale of English Sara Davila
Monday, October 15, 2018 2:00 p.m. EDT = 1800 UTC How to Organize a Lesson Plan Around a Short Story Sybil Marcus
Tuesday, October 16, 2018 12:00 p.m. EDT = 1600 UTC Engaging Students in the Classroom Through Photos and Images Joe McVeigh
Tuesday, October 16, 2018 2:00 p.m. EDT = 1800 UTC Space for Uncertainty: Developing Critical Thinking Skills Ken Beatty
Wednesday, October 17, 2018 2:00 p.m. EDT = 1800 UTC Teaching Grammar with Pop Songs: Ain’t No Reason Not To Sandra Heyer
Thursday, October 18, 2018 12:00 p.m. EDT = 1600 UTC Fostering Independence: Helping Students Become More Effective Self-Directed Learners Sarah Lynn
Thursday, October 18, 2018 2:00 p.m. EDT = 1800 UTC Ten Tips to Accelerate Academic Listening Michael Rost
Friday, October 19, 2018 12:00 p.m. EDT = 1600 UTC An Inductive Approach to Teaching Grammar Geneva Tesh

Here’s how the event was announced …

Joe McVeigh
On Sep 18, 2018 11:17 AM
Joe McVeigh posted in MyTESOL Lounge,


The fall is a great time to work on professional development, and here is a great resource: a series of eight free webinars during the week of October 15-19.

The webinar topics include ideas for teaching grammar; developing academic listening skills; working with photos and images; using short stories; helpings students become self-directed learners; using popular songs; developing critical thinking skills; and 21st century teaching.


The presenters include TESOL professionals Sara Davila, Sybil Marcus, Joe McVeigh, Ken Beatty, Sandra Heyer, Sarah Lynn, Michael Rost, and Geneva Tesh.


These webinars are sponsored by Pearson as part of their 4th Annual ELT Webinar Series.  They take place throughout the week at either 12:00pm or 2:00pm Eastern Daylight Time.  Be sure to adjust for your own time zone.  All of the webinars are free, but you must register separately for each one. All registered participants will receive a certificate of attendance.


For complete descriptions of each webinar including exact times and to register, go to

If you have questions about the webinars, please send them to this email address:

I hope to see you online in October!

See this posting online here


Wed Oct 17 1900-2200 UTC – 3rd Library 2.018 mini-conference – Social Crisis Management


The third Library 2.018 mini-conference: “Social Crisis Management in a 21st Century World,” will be held online (and for free) on Wednesday, October 17th, from 12:00 – 3:00 pm US-Pacific Daylight Time (click for your own time zone). Register now to watch for free and/or to receive the event recordings.

This event is being organized in partnership with Patty Wong, Director of Library Services at Santa Monica Public Library.

Our human condition has changed dramatically and has implications for libraries of all types on a global scale. Food insecurity and hunger, housing policies and homelessness, violence, mental health service needs, social, economic, educational and racial equity, substance abuse and drug overdose – all of these and many more challenges impact the people who frequent our libraries – as customers, students, faculty, and staff. Operational decisions continue to be influenced by social concerns. Join us for a series of conversations on how libraries have developed, responded, and championed programs and services to address some of these social crises and learn about outcomes. What’s the new normal for libraries in this world of social and economic disparity? Has it altered or enhanced our core mission?

This is a free event, being held online.
to attend live and/or to receive the recording links afterward. Please also join the Library 2.0 network to be kept updated on this and future
Participants are encouraged to use #library2018 and #librarysocialcrisis on their social media posts leading up to and during the event.

SESSION LIST as of Oct 10:

  • Active Shooter Training – Mary Soucie, State Librarian
  • Bibliotecas acción social – Judith de Méndez, Librarian.
  • Broward County Library – Reach Out Reach Up Reintegration Program – Roslyn Dean, Community Engagement Manager, Broward County Library
  • “Conversescion”: not a mis-type, a different way to inclusion of asylum seekers – Matilde Fontanin
  • Educating Information Professionals to Manage Social Crises – Jen Jumba, M.L.I.S Adjunct Faculty at SJSU and Adult Services Librarian/Supervisor at Cuyahoga County Public Library
  • From Transactional to Transformational Responses and Roles: Current and Potential Library Responses to Social Crises – Paula Miller, Director, Baltimore County Public Library
  • It’s not (just) about transition: Librarians’ role in promoting trans affirming healthcare – Mary Catherine Lockmiller, MLIS, M.Eng., AHIP
  • Meeting some basic needs of SJSU students and San Jose citizens @ the MLK Jr. Library – Peggy Cabrera, Associate Librarian for Art & Art History, Environmental Studies, Humanities & Philosophy, San Jose State University
  • Opiate Users In Your Library: A Community Health Crisis – Dr. Steve Albrecht
  • Planning to React: Creativity, planning, and community coordination in response to crisis – Christian Zabriskie, Executive Director/Founder
  • Providing Support to Library Customers with Adverse Life Challenges – Alix Midgley, LCSW
  • The Role of Libraries in Addressing Homelessness and Poverty – Dr. Julie Ann Winkelstein
  • What role can public libraries play in the fight against HIV/AIDS? Lessons from Lubuto Library Partners in Lusaka, Zambia – Elizabeth Giles, Director of Library Services


Fri Oct 19 at the Online Facilitation Unconference – Vance Stevens connects with Hossein Vakili’s class of ELT teachers in Tehran

More about the Oct 15-21 5th annual Online Facilitation Unconference



International Facilitation Week 2018 is officially under way!



And for the fifth time, the Online Facilitation Unconference (OFU) is happening alongside it.

This year’s OFU event consists of two phases:

  • Warm-up activities (Monday through Thursday)
  • Unconference (Friday & Saturday)

We’ve set up a Google Doc to keep the schedule and session plan updated:


Full information here

There it says you can participate  in this conference  for only $1 (or whatever you like) if you re interested in joining.

Register here:

Ignore the prices, click on REGISTER, and scroll down to the bottom of the window till you see this:

This is an inclusive conference. If you haven’t registered by now you probably won’t at the suggested price structure. So the organizers encourage anyone to enter $1 as payment, try less if you wish, and join in the fun.

Social Media

Here are the previous announcements with description of the event

Another Online Facilitation Unconference (our fifth). This year, the event will take place October 15–21, 2018.

Once again, we will be playing alongside International Facilitation Week, a week-long celebration of great facilitation and the skilled (and sometimes brave) people around the world that make it happen, organized by the International Association of Facilitators (IAF).

If you’re still interested in exploring what role technology can play in all this, OFU is the place to be. We’re super excited and hope you can join us. Stay tuned for more updates.


Your OFU18 team,
Lyda, Palash & Tim

PS: Please help spread the word. See our social media channels below or simply forward this email to your friends and colleagues. Thanks!

Another Year, Another Unconference!

This year’s Online Facilitation Unconference 2018 will be our fifth event since we first started 2013.

Each year, we continue to tweak the format. We will share more details with you over the next couple of weeks regarding this year’s program.

Claim Your Super Early Bird Discount!

We’re almost ready to roll out ticket sales (incl. sponsor options), probably sometime later this week.

If you’d like to get a little bit of a head start, you can secure your ticket for only $15 using our super early bird rate. This option has been extended to September 24, at noon Pacific Time.


But actually, at this conference there is an option to pay what you like

 At an Unconference participants create the agenda.

See the FAQ to learn more about the process.

Activities are listed here:


Sun Oct 21 1700 UTC EVO first Moderator Development Session

The official EVO 2019 Kickoff Webcast for the Moderator Professional Development took place on October 21 at 1700 UTC

on ZOOM at this location:

Here’s the recording (in two places) of the week 1 live online event


Tue Oct 23 Curt Bonk in Teacher Educator Interest Section webinar

The Teacher Educator Interest Section (TEIS) webinar series resumes with a discussion with Curt Bonk on E-Learning. He has been consistently listed from 2012-2018, by Education Week as a top contributor to the public debate about online education. He will be sharing his thoughts in the TEIS webinar on the emergence of at least 30  different ways in which learning is changing-for instance, it is becoming increasingly collaborative, global, mobile, modifiable, open, online, blended, massive, visually based, hands-on, ubiquitous, instantaneous, and personal.

The webinar will be in a conversation format moderated by Faridah Pawan, the TEIS Chair Elect-Elect. The webinar is free to all TESOL International Members. (See attached brochure for additional information)

What is the State of E-learning? Reflections on 30 Ways Learning is Changing 
Tue, Oct 23, 2018 12:00 PM – 1:15 PM Eastern Daylight (EDT)/Eastern Standard Time (EST)

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.




Oct 25 Tanita Saenkhum in TESOL webinar on academic job market


Oct 15 through Dec 19 e-Learning 3.0 – Connectivist learning by Stephen Downes

Upcoming course events listed at

All events are recorded in the Activity Center:

Communicate with the course via Twitter #el30

Stephen Downes describes how he built this course in gRSShopper

This is worth looking at because in part 5 Stephen explains where you can find the video archive for the course

(which I later discovered is actually the Video link in the right hand sidebar)

Oct 11, 2018 Elearning 3.0 – Introduction

Introduction to Elearning 3.0 –
Oct 17, 2018 Conversation With George Siemens

Stephen Downes and guest George Siemens get together for a conversation on how we got to this point in the history of e-learning.
Oct 18, 2018 E-Learning 3.0 – The impact of the Next Wave of Emerging Learning Technologies

This presentation explores the impact of the next wave of learning technologies emerging as a consequence of significant and substantial changes in the World Wide Web.


Oct 24, 2018 Conversation with Shelly Blake-Plock
Wed Oct 24 2018 20:00:00 GMT+0400 (Arabian Standard Time)

Week 1 of E-Learning 3.0 with Shelly Blake-Plock, Co-Founder, President and CEO – Yet Analytics.


Applications, Algorithms and Data: Open Educational Resources and the Next Generation of Virtual Learning Oct 29, 2018 video

Using examples such as virtual containers and actionable data books, I sketch the future for the next generation of OERs as a distributed and interactive network of applications, algorithms and data. My presentation starts at 1:18:00 in the video.


Using OPML Oct 29, 2018 video

Quick (13 minutes) description of how to use the E-Learning 3.0 OPML feed (at ) to collect the list of feeds being shared by course participants and read all their new poss in your feed reader – I demonstrate how to import OPML for both Feedly and for gRSShopper.


Harvesting Feeds on gRSShopper Oct 29, 2018

A quick look at me approving feed and harvesting them. This is the manual process; it can all be automated, as I’ll show in a later video.


Conversation With Tony Hirst, Open University Oct 31, 2018

We covered server virtualization with an in-depth look at using Docker to launch full web applications in just a few moments, and then looked at embedded programs in Jupyter notebooks, tying it all together with a discussion of how these might be used in the future.


What is Docker? Docker containers explained

Serdar YegulalpInfoWorld, 2018/10/31

For many years now, the leading way to isolate and organize applications and their dependencies has been to place each application in its own virtual machine. But virtual machines are bulky. Enter Docker containers. Containers make it possible to isolate applications into small, lightweight execution environments that share the operating system kernel.


Docker Hub
Docker, 2018/10/31

Docker Hub is the world’s largest public repository of container images with an array of content sources including container community developers, open source projects and independent software vendors (ISV) building and distributing their code in containers.


Sun Oct 28 1400 UTC Djalal Tebib on Sundays with BELTA

Seen on EFL Talks 10 in 10 presenters, 

More information here,


Sun Oct 28 1700 UTC EVO Moderator Development live session 2

Join us for the Week 2 Live Session

When: October 28th, 2018 5PM UTC

Last year’s week 2 slides are here

There was a technical issue with the recording; however the chat transcript was preserved here,


One thought on “Vance Stevens presents ‘lightning talk’ on Engaging students in gamified classrooms using Minecraft

  1. Pingback: Vance Stevens presents ‘Gamifying Teacher Professional Development through Minecraft MOOC’ at WorldCALL 2018 | Learning2gether

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