Minecraft Monday Sept. 9 at 8 PM Eastern time (12 am UTC)
The first Monday of every month is Minecraft Monday. It happens at 8 PM Eastern time, in Maine USA. Unless that Monday is a holiday in the USA; then it’s the second Monday (like the Monday after Memorial Day in September, for example).
So on the second Monday in September 2019, at 8 in the evening on the eastern seaboard, USA, a group of miners, all educators from the looks of it, and mostly teachers of other young miners, met before bedtime for their monthly Monday play-date. By then I (Vance in Penang, Malaysia) was just waking up the following morning, Tuesday midnight Sept 10 UTC. So for me and folks in Europe and parts east of there, it’s Minecraft Tuesdays.
The event was announced by Kim Harrison (a.k.a. K4sons / Thunder in SL) as an informal discussion about ways to use Minecraft at school while building in the creative side of VSTE Place.
Basic directions to join VSTE Place, VSTE’s Minecraft world
To participate in Minecraft Mondays, you must have a computer Minecraft account from https://minecraft.net/en/. There is a one time fee of $26.95. Download and install the software. Choose multiplayer and add a server:
Our server is protected. You will need to be whitelisted to enter. For that, email Kim Harrison at K4sons@gmail.com from an educational email address with your real name and Minecraft account name.
Discord is a voice and screen sharing application that will run on your computer or mobile device. In order to talk with others in VSTE virtual environments, you need to download and install it for free. It helps us to be able to play Minecraft in one screen and listen via Discord with earbuds or headphones.
Create an account.
Many of us use the same name for our Discord account as our Minecraft account to keep things simple.
Discussion and links from the group chat in Discord
Someone asked if people in the group were planning to use Minecraft with their students next term. I was quite surprised that one or two in the group answered in the negative, giving reasons of reduced funding for licenses and adequately powerful computers for students to use to run Minecraft, and poor to negligible technical and admin support, which again are additional symptoms of under-funding for staffing and overtime for after-school activities. If schools could fund creativity through increased staffing, it seems to me they would. It seems to me a step in the very wrong direction when a school system can’t support the efforts of teachers to integrate into their curricula something as creative and promotional of critical thinking as Minecraft. As someone else said in the chat, he thought you could teach anything in Minecraft. The point was discussed, and someone else pointed out the learning was in the discussion following the meaningful play, and that it takes a teacher with experience and the instincts to be able to convert game play into meaningful discussion, and from there into learning outcomes that jibe with the curriculum.
Again, this is just my opinion, but it seems to me that the nation has a crying need to be led by someone who can let the people’s elected congress decide where the money gets spent and stop draining it off arbitrarily (from schools, from disaster relief, from the military e.g. military schools) on pet, cosmetic, and ineffective partisan projects, and someone who would appoint as secretary of the Dept. of Education a highly qualified person who was passionate about and seriously attuned to education, not ignorant of its nuances, and who rose to her position only through her wealth and whom she had graced with it.
Anyway, it would have been unseemly to have raised all this in the chat, but I did mention that though I was not planning to use Minecraft with students this year, I was planning to use it with teachers, as I have done for the past five years, in the upcoming EVO sessions (Electronic Village Online, https://evosessions.pbworks.com). I invited those present to check our website (I say ‘our’ because two present at this event, Kim Harrison and Beth O’Connell) have been moderators of our EVO Minecraft MOOC sessions. I posted the URL for more information in the Discord chat, http://missions4evomc.pbworks.com/.
Speaking of discussion afterwards, as people were departing, I lingered to talk with someone named SunTzu about the comic books he was generating from his work with students in virtual worlds. Called Second Life Adventure Comics, SunTzu said he’d be “willing to do one for educators if we can come up with an interesting story narrative and visuals and hopefully have a purpose to use it”. See his work at https://sl-ac.weebly.com/
SunTzu uses Gyayzo to get the screen captures for his books, https://gyazo.com/f09ad6d02347442005b72ae974bda5e5. To read the books click on the links at top of the images that say SCAC 19-01, 02, and 03 (the book icons also appear hyperlinked, so clicking on just the text above the icons was not intuitive).
Here are some of the screen shots I made while engaged in this event. There are more screen captures uploaded to the Discord chatroom for those who wish to talk with VSTE teachers.
Most of those present just started building, all in creative mode, with unlimited tools and resources at their disposal. We start with an overview taken from across the way looking back on where the building was taking place
And moving in closer as the building was getting under way
Mainecakes made a turtle pond, complete with turtle she’d either spawned or lured there. Once done, she set about decorating the area with some of the plants available in creative inventory.
K4sons set about making a saddlery shop. Some of the local mobs came around to have a look. I right clicked on one. I could have grabbed a few dozen lumps of coal from inventory and traded them with him for the emerald he had concealed under his cloak.
SunTzu and Beth_Ghostraven created a crenelated castle and when they moved to the second floor, the ground floor started attracting spiders and zombies, who tend to emerge during periods of relative darkness, such as rainstorms. In the screenshot below someone has slain a zombie and left its rotten carcass there for someone else to collect. If you accumulate such carcasses you can trade them with villagers for things you can’t find otherwise in Minecraft.
JazMar created something with impenetrable doors, so I had to catch him/her working with screenshots made through the windows. At one point a skeleton took up a position near one of the doors. He turned and faced me as I moved around him. However, as we were in creative mode, he did not attack. But then Beth appeared on the scene and took her sword to him. Before succumbing to that he got off an arrow that caught her on the bum. Ouch!
And when Dak arrived, he set about constructing one of his signature neo-monolithic structures. Asked how he could do it so quickly, he said he had done it so many times before. He is indeed a prolific and experienced builder. I followed him through the roof on the staircase leading to the ground floor, where I watched Dakotah making hasty improvements to the decor there, ignoring a llama and a neutered skeleton who had taken up residence downstairs.
I created my own monstrosity on a plateau behind where the others were building.
At the traditional meeting time of noon GMT, and on the usual day, Sunday, three original Writing for Webheads members convened in Zoom for a 21 year reunion. The date was September 8, 2019, and the original members who joined me, Vance Stevens, were Michael Coghlan and Felix Zaniboni. We were joined by Dan Bassill, one of our original Webheads in Action members, who helped us better relate the Webheads movement with his Tutor Mentor Exchange.
I put two views from another of our favorite MUVE spaces, the Palace, up at the end of the chat (I need to re-discover the links to the chat logs I found them in).
Michael was able to find and share with us some materials he had from his online days that pre-dated the beginning of my chat logs. He had a web page he’d used to deliver a presentation in Jerusalem in July 1998, which shows his involvement teaching online through Dave’s ESL Cafe and David Winet’s EFI (English for Internet at Study.com). http://michaelcoghlan.net/confrefs.htm. The slides he used in this presentation are still online: http://michaelcoghlan.net/conshort/index.htm
Michael showed us some of the materials he produced for online learners in 1997 and 1998, such as http://michaelcoghlan.net/toeflintroassign.htm, which he used in the class he taught in EFI. Others are mentioned in the chat log from the Zoom recording.
Felix remembered that Michael had sent him a certificate of completion of his online course from those days. When Michael was trying to remember it, Felix said he still had it on his computer somewhere (or maybe it was in a frame on the wall of his office :-). In any event he was able to find it pretty quickly and send it to us in an email. I couldn’t resist posting it here:
Dan joined us late in the chat. He has been in the Webheads in Action Yahoo Group since 2005. According to the WiA community page here, http://vancestevens.com/papers/evonline2002/community.htm, he indicated when joining that he had “collaborated with Webheads on 3 eConferences since May 2004”. Dan is the force behind the Tutor Mentor Exchange that works to find ‘mentors’ for poor kids in Chicago and make a difference in their lives. He guided us through pages on his site and showed us pictures of people he had mentored who had remained his friends for life, and in come cases had gone on to help people who had mentored them, such as the guy in the picture below (I presume he’s the same one as the young man pictured with a much younger Dan in the photo below that):
He saw parallels with Webheads in the way we were each trying to connect with communities that would bring us members who could help us further our altruistic goals, tapping into what Clay Shirky called the cognitive surplus that the advent of the internet leveraged so ably. Dan steered us through the following links (that were working when we met but are not responding today; I’ll monitor this).
This event happened late evening for me. When I awoke in the morning I found via email alert that two colleagues had arrived in the Zoom room between 1 and 2 hours after we had already left it. They were Maha (I’ll have to find out which one) and Doris Molero, whom I met face to face for the first time at WorldCALL in Chile this past summer: http://vancestevens.com/papers/evonline2002/community.htm#keepshining
In these picture Doris and I meet for the first time in Chile after decades of collaboration on various projects, and in the picture on the right, she says that her long learning journey that eventually brought her to Chile began with Webheads in Action.
Here are some announcement that attracted Dan, Doris, and Maha to our proceedings:
For #Learning2gether episode 419, all are invited to attend a reunion actually of the old Writing for Webheads which started some time before September 1998 (Webheads in Action got going a few years later in 2001-2002). It takes place this coming Sunday Sept 8, at noon UTC. Michael Coghlan and Felix Zaniboni have agreed to join me to just talk about what we could possibly have been thinking way back then.
I’m not sure exactly when Webheads began, but we can talk about that today. Late last century Vance was teaching a course for EFI, English for Internet, an online language learning idea implemented by David Winet where he set up a website called Study.com, and got students to sign up for English lessons via Internet and recruited teachers to teach them, all for free, and mostly by email. One of my students showed me how to do this better by getting me started learning HTML and creating a website for it, http://prosites-vstevens.homestead.com/files/efi/webheads.htm. By then we had started calling it Writing for Webheads, and David had got a company called Coterie interested in the project to the point where they set up a muve Palace server where those interested could go and learn and teach languages.
David set us up with a classroom space in the Palace and from a server Vance was setting up at a language school he was helping develop in his real job in the UAE, he was able to enter the Palace and remain there all day using the LAN without having to occupy my phone line (that was back in the days of dodgy dialup connectivity). The time assigned for Vance’s class followed closely on that assigned to two other EFI teachers, Michael Coghlan and Maggie Doty. They were often still in the space when Vance appeared for his class, and we just merged.
I’m not sure if this was in 1997 or 1998, but this is where got to know the students mentioned in the first record I have of our chat logs there,
There’s a lot more that I can write here but on Sunday, Sept 8, Felix Zaniboni, whom we used to know as “Bahia”, and Michael Coghlan have agreed to meet me and whomever else we can recruit for the event for a discussion of old times and where we have all gone from there.
Stevens, Vance, Nelba Quintana, Rita Zeinstejer, Saša Sirk, Doris Molero & Carla Arena. (2008). Writingmatrix: Connecting Students with Blogs, Tags, and Social Networking. In Stevens, Vance & Elizabeth Hanson-Smith, Co-editors. (2008). Special Feature: Proceedings of the Webheads in Action Online Convergence, 2007. TESL-EJ, Volume 11, Number 4: http://tesl-ej.org/ej44/a7.html
Stevens, Vance. 2006. Guest Editor’s Introduction: Proceeds of Webheads in Action Online Convergence: Volume 2. In Stevens, V. (Ed.) IATEFL Poland Computer Special Interest Group Teaching English with Technology A Journal for Teachers of English ISSN 1642-1027 Vol. 6, Issue 3 (August 2006). Available: http://www.tewtjournal.org/issues/past-issue-2006/past-issue-2006-issue-3/
Stevens, Vance. 2006. Guest Editor’s Introduction: Proceeds of Webheads in Action Online Convergence: Volume 1. In Stevens, V. (Ed.) IATEFL Poland Computer Special Interest Group Teaching English with Technology A Journal for Teachers of English ISSN 1642-1027 Vol. 6, Issue 2 (May 2006). Available: http://www.tewtjournal.org/issues/past-issue-2006/past-issue-2006-issue-2/
Stevens, V. (2004). Webheads communities: Writing tasks interleaved with synchronous online communication and web page development. In Leaver, B. and Willis, J. (Eds.). Task-based instruction in foreign language education: Practices and programs. Georgetown University Press. pp. 204-217. Available: http://www.vancestevens.com/papers/archive/2004taskbased_webheads.pdf
Stevens, V. and Altun, A. (2002). The Webheads community of language learners online. In Syed, Z. (Ed.). The process of language learning: An EFL perspective. Abu Dhabi: The Military Language Institute. pp. 285-318. 2001mli_stevens-altun2mb.pdf.
Stevens, Vance. 2001. Developing a Community in Online Language Learning. In Syed, Zafar, and David Heuring, eds. Tools of the Trade: Teaching EFL in the Gulf. Proceeds of the Military Language Institute’s 1st annual Teacher-to-Teacher Conference, May 3-4, 2000, Abu Dhabi (UAE) pp 85-101. Available: http://www.vancestevens.com/papers/archive/2000mli_webheads.pdf
Stevens, Vance. 1999. Writing for Webheads: An online writing course utilizing synchronous chat and student web pages. A paper submitted for the 4th Annual Teaching in the Community Colleges Online Conference: Best Practices In Delivering, Supporting & Managing Online Learning, April 7-9, 1999 – http://sites.hsprofessional.com/vstevens/files/efi/hawaii99.html
Fri, August 9, 2019 – Vance Stevens repeated “Supporting student writing with the help of voice-to-text”