Vance Stevens Plenary at ICCTAR, Melaka, on Gamifying Teacher Professional Development through EVO Minecraft MOOC

Learning2gether Episode #414

On Friday, June 28 Vance Stevens was in invited to be a featured plenary speaker at the ICCTAR conference in Melaka, Malaysia (International Conference on Creative Teaching, Assessment, and Research in the English,, organized by Prof. Dr. Jayakaran Mukundan). There I delivered a plenary 28 June 10:30 to 11:20, on Gamifying Teacher Professional Development through Minecraft MOOC

2019jun28vanceICCTARplenaryPhoto by my son, Glenn Stevens, who happened to be in the auditorium audience.
Glenn also recorded the video at the top of this blog post.

I decided at the last minute to record my presentation using Zoom from the podium with the laptop screen aimed at the projector and me standing with a handheld microphone between the laptop and the auditorium projection screen. This didn’t turn out so well because the acoustics on-stage were horrible. The sound was fine just outside the stage via the PA system directed at the audience, but on stage, the sound echoed badly as picked up by the computer mic. However my son Glenn was in the audience and he was recording on his Samsung cell phone. He got the recording which I’ve now placed at the top of this post, with reasonable sound quality. Meanwhile I uploaded the Zoom file to YouTube and here it is:


Minecraft is a game that has sustained the attention of teachers wanting to introduce elements of gamification into their classrooms despite their encountering two steep hurdles: (1) the complexity and depth of the game itself, and (2) understanding how students will experience self-directed critical and collaborative learning by engaging each other in appropriate video games. I started EVO Minecraft MOOC (EVOMCM) in 2015 to learn with teaching colleagues how to experientially address both these issues.

EVO (Electronic Village Online) consists of over a dozen sessions on topics proposed by language teachers who develop their proposals into professional development courses of interest to other teachers. The Minecraft EVO session has become an ongoing community of practice of language practitioners learning about gamification by interacting with each other in Minecraft for over 5 years now.

This talk is about the nature of learning in sustainable distributed communities of practice as embodied in EVO, and in particular understanding how video games can be leveraged into opportunities for language learning once teachers grasp the ineffable nature of their participatory cultures through engagement with peers, and in learning hands-on through meaningful play how games such as Minecraft might be used in their own teaching contexts.

This was conducted as a flipped presentation. That is, the link to the slides and to the prose write-up were given out to the audience at the beginning of the presentation. The audience were invited to follow along in the slides as I presented, if they wished, and have access to the links I referred to as we went along on our learning journey together:

The complete slide set here –
And there is a text version of this talk at

You can download the ICCTAE program book (onto your device) from here,%2003.06.19.pdf

Here is the schedule for the third day of the conference

I recently created a blog post, with slides and show notes, from a presentation given to a live audience at WorldCALL in Chile, Nov 2018, though there was no recording there of the presentation itself:

Photos from the event

Some participants at the conference have passed me their photos in which I was included. I’m posting them here as a souvenir of our time together in Melaka, Malaysia.


Pictured here are Kadek Sonia Piscayanti, Alan Maley, and Ni Made Ratminingsih to my right, To my left are Alvin Pang, Ken Mizusawa and Lee Su Kim.


On the left are Lee Su Kim, a Nyonya author, educator and cultural activist, and Alvin Pang. I am standing between Ken Mizusawa and Kadek Sonia Piscayanti, a literary figure from Bali who writes profoundly about women’s issues in her home country.


Kenny Ong Kian Meng showed me his poster on the Use of Audio Recording Applications on the Mobile Phone in Improving Pronunciation Performance among University Students. I thought he might like to look at this article about resources for teachers to help them teach segmental and supersegmental pronunciation features:

Cox, J., Henrichsen, L., Tanner, M., and McMurry, B. (2019). The needs analysis, design, development, and evaluation of the ‘English Pronunciation Guide: An ESL Teachers’ Guide to Pronunciation Teaching Using Online Resources’.TESL-EJ, 22(4), 1-24. Retrieved from (also available:



Earlier events

Thu Jun 27  Learning2gether Episode 413 with NileTESOL LTSIG – Hanaa Khamis interviews Csilla Jaray-Benn



Learning2gether with NileTESOL LTSIG — Hanaa Khamis interviews Csilla Jaray-Benn

Learning2gether Episode #413

On Thursday, June 27, at 1600 UTC, Hanaa Khamis from the NileTESOL LTSIG  interviewed Csilla Jaray-Benn, past-president of TESOL France, now living in Grenoble though she is originally from Hungary. The topic was the role of empathy in successful language learning and language teaching.

Hanaa created the following poster and distributed it on her various social networks.

Where? In Zoom, hosted by Vance Stevens, Learning2gether

Comments from the chatroom

Mohamed : hi
Azza : hi, thanks Van for hosting us. hi Hanaa and Scilla.
Vance Stevens : Vance Stevens, and this is Learning2gether podcast #413
elya Adly : no sound!!
Vance Stevens : hi elya, I notice you have no mic showing in the participants list
Azza : enable the zoom audio in your device.
elya Adly to Vance Stevens(Privately) : ok.. sound is on now.. Thanks
Hanaa Khamis : Dear Partipants, ask away, plz tupr yr Qs in chat box
Waleed Mandour : How can we build ’empathy’ within language students?
Hanaa Khamis : thx waleed, more Qs dear audience
Azza : which definition of empathy are we dealing with? and how do we apply it in total physical response TPR?
Hanaa Khamis : good Qs
elya Adly : how can a teacher adapt empathy in class activities?!
Hanaa Khamis : yes got those Qs
Vance Stevens : I think teachers are by nature empathetic, more so than people in other career paths, except maybe psychologists, but then teachers are part psychologist
Azza : Van, you are right considering the amount of time we spend with our students that helps building strong relationships with our students.
Waleed Mandour : I agree with you, Vance. We are intrinsically emapathetic. But how to develop it correctly in students?
Vance Stevens : that’s a good question
elya Adly : how can a teacher with a low emotional intelligence develope?!
Mohamed : can you mention us some empathetic activities???
Vance Stevens : she is describing one now
Mohamed : great
Azza : building on students backgrounds and experiences that they share in the classroom enhances empathy in the classroom, but again, how to employ this in a very diverse classroom?
Mohamed : how can empathy change students’ behaviors???
Waleed Mandour : Nice one
Vance Stevens : got it
Mohamad Fayez : yes thanks
Waleed Mandour : I guess in a way or another we indirectly pass ’empathetic skill’ to our students through our actions in class.
elya Adly : can we count EMPATHY as a psychological issue more than educational?
Mohamed : thanks a million dr Hanaa, interesting
Azza : what if a teacher doesn’t really care about students’s learning more than their grades?
Mohamed : do u agree with empathy sometimes can be bad or have side effect in classroom ???????
Waleed Mandour : Thank you all for the interesting session
Mohamed : for all of you
csillajaray-benn : It was my pleasure to be here and sorry for the questions that were not answered.
csillajaray-benn : Thank you all!


Announcements on Facebook Groups

Earlier event

Jun 23 Learning2gether Episode 412 with NileTESOL LTSIG – Hanaa Khamis interviews Nik Peachey


Learning2gether with NileTESOL LTSIG – Hanaa Khamis interviews Nik Peachey

Learning2gether Episode #412

On Sunday June 23, 2019, Vance Stevens contributed the Learning2gether Zoom room so that Hanaa Khamis could host the latest in the current round of summertime Nile TESOL LTSIG Interactive Webinars

Where? In Zoom, hosted by Vance Stevens for Learning2gether.

The Zoom recording is available here 

And an mp4 version of the Zoom video has been uploaded to YouTube here:

What was this about?

Hanaa Khamees skillfully interviewed Nik Peachey, Freelance Learning Consultant, on the topic of  building your career and income through language learning materials writing.

Nik is the author of numerous materials himself and has produced a book called Becoming an E-Publisher which he markets through Payhip, The price is only $2.99, but Nik kindly sent participants in the webinar a promo code which allowed us to download the book for free.

In the introduction to the book, Nik explains what the book covers, and why he thinks others should follow in his footsteps and self-publish, which is pretty much what he covered in his conversation with Hanaa during the interview. This was:

  • Crowd Sourcing Funding
  • The Writing Process
  • Creating the Product
  • Choosing a Distribution Platform
  • Marketing your Book

In his talk, he explained how he had “decided to crowd source the funding to develop my book and launched my crowd sourcing campaign in January 2014. I managed to raise £5,000 in 3 months and used that money to produce – Digital Video – A Manual for Language Teachers. When I raised the money to create the book I thought it would take me around 3 months to produce. I finally finished and published the ebook in the summer of 2015 about a year over schedule.

In 2016 the ebook was shortlisted by the British Council for an ELTon – Innovations Award – in the Teacher Resources category and to my utter amazement, despite some really string competition from the established publishing houses, it won.

This may sound like a fairy tale success story, but it’s not, well at least not yet and it may well never be, but it is a story or a road map of how you can make your own book a reality.”

In the Zoom chat, Nik provided a number of links of interest relating to crowd sourcing, self-publishing, finding images, and so on

01:36:51 Hussein Hassan: what do theses links refer to? should we use them??
01:37:43 AMANY: will the chat with links be available in record?
01:40:31 Hany Said : thank you for your info

And here are the links as promised – Vance

You can find out more about Nik and his work in the links in his email footer

Nik Peachey | Learning Technology, Writer, Teacher Trainer, Course Designer
Editor – Edtech & ELT Newsletter:
Winner 2016 British Council ELTon Award for Innovation in Teacher Resources
Winner 2012 British Council ELTon Award for Excellence in Course Innovation

Nick and Hanaa are both frequent contributors to the Facebook group Webheads in Action,

And Nik curates a number of interesting topics on Scoop-it,


Announcements of this Learning2gether event on Facebook Groups


Earlier events

Wed May 15 Vance Stevens invited to present Learning2gether episode 411 on Gamification for NileTESOL LTSIG


Wed May 8 NileTESOL LTSIG interviews Deborah Healey on Teachers as Researchers


Started May 6 and lasts 5 weeks – Heike Philp hosts free Guinevere course on building game activities in virtual worlds


For the month of May 2019 Moodle MOOC MM14

You need to be enrolled in the course to see the link for the first webinar

Enrolment information:


According to the link

Moodle MOOC 14 (MM14) will take place from May 1 – 31,  2019 on Moodle for Teachers and Moodle for Managers. The purpose of the MOOC is to connect educators for instruction and learning, reflective practice, social and collaborative learning, cultural exchange and peace, personal and professional development, community building, best practices and challenges involved in teaching with and without technology, student engagement with the content, peers, and the facilitator, and learning to teach online with Moodle course and learning management system.

The syllabus is here


June 12 American English Live on Motivating Your Students

American English for Educators

Join in on June 12th for the fourth event in American English Live Series 5. During this session, “Motivating Your Students with Rules, Routines, and Rewards,” Lisa Morgan and Sara Denne-Bolton will discuss creating student buy-in for classroom rules, identifying successful opening and closing activities, and the pros and cons of using rewards.

Additional Instructions:
To join the session, go to the American English for Educators Facebook page ( at 8 a.m. or 1 p.m. Eastern Time from Washington D.C. Check the local time in your region at:

You may need to refresh the page or go to “posts” if you don’t see the live session at exactly that time. Follow the page to make sure you receive notifications when we go live.

Sat Jun 22 – iTDi Teachers Room interviews Dorothy Zemach

Learn more about Dorothy Zemach and #ELT #Publishing in this special live interview on Saturday, 22nd June 03:00 UTC.

Check your local time:

Join the session, hosted by Steven Herder

Dorothy’s upcoming course sounds quite interesting. I am inspired to take her course though I can’t do it on such short notice. However for anyone with ideas they want to launch into the self-publishing stage, Dorothy would be an excellent mentor, and you would be working intensively for a month in a community of other writers.

Dorothy’s video of her plenary on “Sausage and the law: how textbooks are made” from the recent IATEFL conference, can be found here

and she mentioned that she would post this video on her FB page, so I’ll try to link to that.

This talk was one of a series in the iTDi Teacher’s Room,

Access to the TR is not free though there is a 6-month’s free trial available.

According to the link above, the Teacher’s Room operates currently on the following schedule

I like what iTDi does, they produce quality PD opportunities that have the potential to carry teachers into greater self sufficiency, and I admire that they are trying to support themselves through paid subscriptions.

Learning2gether promotes free PD opportunities, though of course there is no funding and no remuneration. Learning2gether has worked for me as a platform which had enough visibility that it could help me get my next paid job when needed, but for someone whose prospects for a next salaried position are tending more towards nil, the iTDi model would tend to attract increasing interest. One COULD do any of these together (just sayin’)