Week 3 in EVO Minecraft MOOC highlights – Trading string for emeralds and networking on the AZcraft server

Learning2gether Episode 507


How we used string to buy emeralds and arrows at the Tower Mall
Flights of fancy on the AZcraft server

Other highlights from EVO Minecraft MOOC Weeks 2 and 3
Skip down to Earlier Events that happened since the previous Learning2gther post


We have just passed week 3 of EVOMC21 the five-week EVO Minecraft MOOC session, http://missions4evomc.pbworks.com/. EVOMC21 is in its 7th year now in the annual round of professional development offerings from the Electronic Village Online, http://evosessions.pbworks.com

EVOMC21 is not technically a MOOC, although I have expropriated the acronym to fit what I think it is: a miniscule open online course. However, participants in the session each year generally follow the progression laid out in Cormier’s five steps in coping with connectivist MOOCs: orient, declare, network, cluster, and focus; explained here https://youtu.be/r8avYQ5ZqM0.  It’s been around for a while, but I really like this video:

As the EVO sessions run for 5 weeks, the numbers line up, so we anchor each week’s activities in what participants in any MOOC would be doing at about the same time in a similarly-paced open online course

I also need to reiterate that I am talking here about cMOOCs. There are also xMOOCs, somewhat different kettles of fish. A succinct but substantive explanation can be found here: http://blogs.onlineeducation.touro.edu/distinguishing-between-cmoocs-and-xmoocs/

The first week in a cMOOC is for orientation. cMOOCs are known to be disorienting. Since they emerge from free platforms, some of their bells and whistles might not at first appear to be in synch. But they are, as participants eventually discover, if they stay around long enough (many fall by the wayside in MOOCs). Once they understand the routine inherent to the MOOC they are in, they might be moved to declare, over time, who they are, what they are doing in that particular cMOOC, and what they might want to get out of it. Once participants start to find out more about one another, they start to network among themselves, but as each individual is likely to be a node in some wider network as in a set of venn diagrams overlapping with EVOMC21 in the center, they start to learn about each other’s networks as well.

This post takes a snapshot of this process at it stood after Week 3 in the EVO Minecraft MOOC, ostensibly the week devoted to networking. The cluster and focus weeks are yet to come; these are the weeks where some participants find what they have in common and cluster together around topics and projects that interest them in the MOOC. The final week, focus, is where participants start to think beyond the MOOC, where some of the participants in clusters might formulate projects deriving from the MOOC and carry on with them. One of the chief take-aways of MOOCs is always the extension to one’s network, the people you meet there and bond with professionally and personally, because cMOOCs are very personalized.

Now when I say the highlights of Week 3, I mean those as perceived through my eyes and those of others who might have engaged with me and my wife Bobbi Bear (i.e. people in my cluster, such as it has emerged from this particular MOOC). As we are a 24/7 MOOC with participants from all over the world, many of us are active while others sleep.  So my highlights reflect what I have seen and recorded and was able to convey in media, from my own perspective, while other equally or more outstanding activities were no doubt taking place outside my waking hours on other parts of the EVO Minecraft MOOC and other servers, but participants in these need to write their own blog posts. I hope they do and tweet about them using the tag #evomc21. That’s how these different clusters might learn more about what each has been up to.

At the moment there are only three hits on the tag #evomc21 on Twitter
My tweet about this post will be the fourth.

Announcements were made after the fact at these Facebook groups

And at Groups.io

I have tried to record all of the events I have found out about and that left some kind of record here: http://missions4evomc.pbworks.com/w/page/142133859/2021_Live_Events.

Here then is a blogged encapsulation of my highlights from the 3rd week of EVOMC21.


How we used string to buy emeralds and arrows at the Tower Mall

Sun-Mon 25-31 Jan EVO Minecraft MOOC Week 3 – Network

EVOMC 2021 Week 3 – Network – Mon-Sun, Jan. 25-31, 2021

Sun Jan 31 Teacher Vance, Bobbi Bear, and Mirea Artican gather string to trade for emeralds with savanna villagers and then buy arrows with the emeralds

We had learned about the stringfarm from Sura, who suggested we go there for string, so so we did. The stringfarm is in a dangerous place deep underground because it contains spawners, rendered more or less safe by Sura. For example, Sura had put a lot of torches all over, including on top of the nearby spawner, in effect neutralizing it, and she had left the spider spawner to allow spiders to spew forth, but built a glass wall to contain the spiders, who eyes glow red and menacing in the dark, as in the image below. You can get to this place on the evomc21 server at  /warp stringfarm.

She put lots of torches around to suppress the mobs’ ability to spawn here.

She build an opening in the glass were participants can slay the spiders safely, with a chest beneath to collect  their accumulated string.

But you have to understand there are no guarantees in such volatile dark spaces, as Mirea discovers, below.

Why do we need string? Read on ==>

The main limitation to becoming a proficient archer in Minecraft is the amount of flint you can accumulate for the arrowheads. You can kill skeletons and get their bows and a few arrows, and you can kill spiders for string, and chickens for feathers, but for flint you need to break about 100 gravel blocks to get enough flint for just ten arrows.  Bows are much simpler; you need only string and sticks, but of course to shoot a bow, with any effect, you need a lot of arrows.

The pictures above are from this page:

I found a better way for those of us on the EVO Minecraft MOOC server in 2021 to get arrows in quantity for our bows. It involves getting string from the spider stringfarm and then finding fisherman villagers who will trade string for emeralds, and with the emeralds buy arrows from fletchers, villagers whose calling it is to craft arrows.

Another way to collect arrows is shown in the Facebook post below, but these are absorbed by the body and can’t be recycled.


On Facebook, Bobbi Bear and Teacher Vance offered to show any participant in EVOMC21 how you can make a bow and then use two /warps on our server to get a quiver full of arrows in maybe half an hour, most of that trekking from the nearest warp to the right villages. Obviously users on our server could eliminate the trek by setting a home point to what I call the Tower Mall (reason obvious from the video), but until some admin sets a warp to it, the only way to get there the first time is to trek there from the nearest warp (at this writing, that’s /warp bank), so I wanted to show my viewers how to get there by orienting on our dynamic map at http://mc.evomc.net:8123/.

In a matter of minutes Mirea took us up on our invitation, and the video below was the result. Maybe if others in our community follow the technique in this video, we can form a merry band of EVOMC21 archers 🙂


Flights of fancy on the AZcraft server

Thu Jan 28 1700 UTC – Play and Learn and Network with Olivetree Grove on the AZcraft Minecraft Server and Discord


Event created by Olivetree Lighthouse and EVO Minecraft MOOC
An EVO Minecraft MOOC event on the AZcraft Minecraft server and EVOMC21 Discord Server
Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 5 PM – 7 PM UTC

This was one of our announced networking events for this week. Olivetree told us we would “be visiting a family friendly public server where we can go on a boat trip, a scary ride, dive and swim through a coral reef, play with dolphins and turtles, ride horses, go shopping at some creative shops, and more. The server is called AZcraft – The address to add it is azcraftbc.mcraft.pro .”

Video title
Teacher Vance & Bobbi Bear Play, Learn & Network with Olivetree_Gro on the AZcraft Minecraft Server

The video above includes 20 minutes of metered flying time around some phantasmagorical builds created by young people working strictly in survival mode on a private, open, but well structured server, and includes a phenomenal roller coaster ride and a swim with sea creatures on a coral reef after quaffing special potions bestowing 8 min. of underwater breathing.


Other highlights from EVO Minecraft MOOC Weeks 2 and 3


Thu 28 Jan 0300 – Bobbi Bear shares the art of cat taming with Teacher Vance and Mirea Artican and others interested at EVOMC21

It was still Wed in San Francisco when Mirea Artican joined us online after her supper to catch Bobbi Bear and Teacher Vance just finishing breakfast Thu morning in Penang, Malaysia. But it was be just the right time in Minecraft for Bobbi Bear and Teacher Vance to demonstrate collecting string at the local /warp stringfarm and then put a pair of strings together with three sticks to make fishing poles, and with the newly crafted polls go off to catch some fish. Next step was to go where there were likely to be some cats (a village somewhere) and attract them with raw salmon and cod. That’s the tricky part, but Bobbi has perfected the technique and she had promised to try to pass it on to participants present. Once you have a cat, your life will be purrrfect; it will follow you, even when you teleport, and you will wake up to find useful bits and bobs the cats have collected such as feathers and rabbit hides and feet (must bring good luck, yeah?). 



This event came about after this one a few days before:

Teacher Vance and Bobbi Bear Blaze a trail from Olivetree’s Sandbox Meadow to Shipwreck City and the Skybox Shelter

On Jan 23 we had promised to be available on helpdesk but as there was no one around, Bobbi and I blazed a trail from Olivetree’s sandbox meadow over to the home we had built near Shipwreck City, and we video’d the result: https://youtu.be/Fh3Ci4blZLk

In this EVO Minecraft MOOC Meaningful Play Adventure Safari Hangout, Teacher Vance and Bobbi Bear show you the path we blazed from Olivetree’s Sandbox Meadow (which she is using to introduce newcomers to the game) to Shipwreck City, and we show you around the Skyhouse we built nearby.

We built the Skyhouse after venturing from Olivetree’s Sandbox Meadow and finding the nearby village. We decided to build a home in the mountains back of there since it’s near the village on the ocean, cats hang out around villages, and Bobbi thought she could catch fish in the sea there and use the fish to try and tame some of the cats.

We spent many pleasant Minecraft hours in blazing the trail through the spruce and mushroom-filled oak forests. Then we went back over it again and again and put in street lights and made road improvements. Here you can vicariously retrace the results of our endeavors.

And that’s how Bobbi got her first cat!

Bobbi is so proud of herself. She says she did it the hard way. She wasn’t able to tame any cats at the shipwreck village, but she killed spiders to get string, cut wood to make a pole, and then went fishing around the spawn area. She caught cod and salmon there and tried it out on cats lurking around the spawn area. She finally found one that would love her after purrrfecting her technique, after wasting many fish on 3 other cats. Now she’s happy, and so is the cat.

What happened on this meaningful play adventure we were talking about earlier, where Bobbi Bear shares the art of cat taming with Teacher Vance and Mirea Artican?

Video Title: 
Bobbi Bear shares the art of cat taming with Teacher Vance and Mirea Artican in EVO Minecraft MOOC

We start at the spawn point, and Teacher Vance begins by briefing the plan, which is to /warp to the stringfarm, the gloomy place in the pictures above at level 26 under ground. That’s about 38 blocks deep from the surface and it’s where Sura found a couple of spawners: fire baskets that spawn mobs (e.g. skeletons, spiders, and zombies). These baskets will churn them out unless they are surrounded with torches including one placed on top of the spawner to staunch the flow of mobs, at which point visitors can move around them without being incessantly attacked.

Sura has set the stringfarm up so that the spider spawner is left operational but behind glass, so visitors can approach the glass and kill spiders with their swords through a slat the spiders can’t get through. Their string and eyeballs (objects that spiders always ‘drop’ when slain) go into a box which is constantly filling, so if you take away some string and put it in your pockets, more will appear. You can take string in bunches of 64 at a time. With just 30 strings you can buy emeralds from Liam the librarian back at spawn, so you could get yourself an endless supply of emeralds by tp’ing back and forth and feeding Liam, who would just keep giving you emeralds. Not sure what you’d do with those, maybe deposit them with Zzidkha at the /warp bank on the EVO Minecraft MOOC server.

(Later, I discovered that you could trade the emeralds for arrows, something that IS quite useful, and you can get a better deal on string for arrows from the fisherman in the kiosk next to the fletcher at the Tower Mall, as described in the lead article in this blog post)

It’s easy to /warp into the stringfarm but I had not been able to find a sporting way out, and I wanted to be able to get out of there in a manner that just anyone on our server could replicate, and go from there over well worn paths that Bobbi and I have set to a nearby village, where we’d seen cats. I found the warp marker on our dynamic map and noticed that it was right under one of our trails between the ark and our castle. I also found a small cave just off the path there and saw that if I dug north at an angle down I would come out right on the spawner, which I did until I hit a spot where the bottom fell out, and I soon worked out that I was right over the mineshaft where the spawner is. But I couldn’t jump down and be sure of getting back up, so I had to corkscrew around lower and lower until I’d worked my way low enough to step down into the abandoned mineshaft which contained the spawner chamber. By creating a stairway down I had thus created one back up.

So the day before this adventure Bobbi and I came here and made sure we could find those steps quickly, going back up from the bottom. Mineshafts can be confusing but we put sufficient torches down to both find our way accurately and protect us from skeletons and zombies, which had already caused us to have to make trips back here to collect our death chests, and I installed a salt and pepper diorite staircase over the cobblestone block one I’d made coming down, much easier to find and follow upwards. At the top I had installed a door to keep monsters from getting in from the cave or out from the spawner area, and outside the door I’d installed in the cave, I had left a chest and a crafting table as well as a bed.

So on the day of our meeting, we warped from Sura’s build at the Spawn point to the stringfarm where the spawners are, got some string, and took it up top and out the door, where in the video I illustrate how to craft fishing rods on the crafting table there. Someone slept in the bed, and in the morning we exited the cave and followed the path down the hill to the river, where we fished for cod and salmon. Then we headed for the village, following paths that took us through our castle house, and ended at the village where there are lots of cats. Bobbi showed us how to sneak up on them and feed them enough to get their trust and next thing you know, best friends for life! I had won over a cat.

We tp’d back to our home base and the cat I had tamed followed. Bobbi showed us another couple of things about cats, but it was time to end the video. Bobbi said that no one ever gets bored with cats, but in that case they can find their own. If you find us in Minecraft we’ll show you how.

On this adventure, Mirea got her first cat! 🙂 <jump> <jump>


The eternal question remains: What is the right number of cats?

One or two is ok

Four or five is a bit much

Over a dozen, a cat circus, you can’t open half your boxes.

Don’t be like Bobbi Bear!


These highlights are from Week 2 in  EVO Minecraft MOOC – Declare

EVOMC21 Week 2 – Declare – Mon-Sun, Jan. 18-24, 2021


Sat 24 Jan and Sun 23rd 1230-1430 UTC Join Bobbi Bear and Teacher Vance in Meaningful Play – Adventure Safari Hangouts

Teacher Vance and Bobbi Bear keep trying to find an evomc21 event title that will characterize what we are trying to do when engaging participants on our Minecraft server. We’ve settled on Meaningful Play – Adventure Safari Hangouts

First we have to find a time when participants are likely to be available. We set events to draw them to our server and monitor our Discord #serverchat channel to see when they are there on their own. If we find a participant online we send them a message in world and ask if we can assist. If they want help we go there.

We don’t set plans in advance for teaching people about Minecraft since our participants range from newbie to knowbie, and we have other moderators who are mounting more systematic approaches. If you need to be shown what to do we can help you with whatever you need to learn. If you know a bit about Minecraft and want to be shown around some interesting places on our server, we know of a few.

Either way, clueless or clued-in, you need to come online so we can show you. The ultimate goal is for you to become familiar enough with the medium so you can work out in your mind, Aha! THIS is how I might use this with MY students! We are all in pursuit of such aha moments; hopefully there will be more than one.

What do we mean by Meaningful Play – Adventure Safari Hangouts?

Meaningful play is a term Jeff Kuhn threw into an article we wrote together. You can find the original reference for it here:

Kuhn, J. and Stevens, V. (2017). Participatory culture as professional development: Preparing teachers to use Minecraft in the classroom. TESOL Journal 8, 4:753–767. 
https://doi.org/10.1002/tesj.359 and http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/tesj.359/full

Pre-publication proof available: 

Adventure Safari is where we agree on a destination and go there and talk through where we are headed and what we are doing using Discord. I feel that this is where we all learn best how to function in any multiplayer communicative/collaborative game environment, whether it be Minecraft or learning a target language by moving around a city where they speak that language and interacting with the natives there. You call on resources you already have and develop new ones as the need arises. It’s like meeting your friend on a street corner and starting with “Whatdya feel like doing today?” (“I dunno, I hear Olivetree found a skele spawner near her farm area, wanna go look?” – or wherever, and off we go).

Imagine doing that in a target language. You would learn and use the language you needed for the situation you were in, just as you would if making friends in a foreign country.

If you aren’t up to moving about quite yet, then we can hang out with you and help get you up to speed.


What happened over these two days?

One thing was that Bobbi Bear and Teacher Vance built the Skyhouse and Bobbi tamed her first cat.

and the other was …

Teacher Vance and Bobbi Bear meet Dakotah Redstone on his realm, and [itsasecret]

The next day, same time same station, we found Dakotah Redstone streaming his Minecraft screen into Discord from his Haliwell Realm and I made these screen shots from my Discord view of his stream. First I watched Dak as he flew above his realm and captured images from his streamed arial view of the confluence of biomes there.

Below is a manor house that he is using as one of the buildings in his Haliwell campus.

The juxtaposition of biomes makes intriguing panoramas.

Then Dak invited me to join him there and talked me through entering his realm. When you start the Minecraft launcher, where you can choose to play single player or multiplayer, the third option is to play on a realm. Under that option I had to first find Dak’s invitation to join his realm, and when found that, I was able to join him there. These screenshots show my desktop with my Minecraft realm play view at the upper left, concurrent with Dak’s view of what he saw as seen in his Discord stream, on the right.


Here we are looking at each other. Dak is wearing cactus armor, I believe.


Then we went over to the EVO Minecraft MOOC server and went to Dak’s recent build at /warp itsasecret. Anyone can go there but not many will find the many secrets lurking underground and behind the bushes.  Many of these latter are revealed in the video, filmed with Dak’s wholehearted permission.

Here’s the video: https://youtu.be/WVKu_DJ8lAU

Wait, there’s more

You can see whatever traces have been made of all the EVO Minecraft MOOC events that have taken place so far, from Week 1 forward to however far we’ve got to now, here:



Earlier Events


Mon 11 Jan 1400 UTC – Teacher Vance, Jane Chien, and Bobbi Bear host EVO Minecraft MOOC kickoff event in Zoom and Minecraft


Followed, six days later, by Jane Chien and Rose Bard’s presentation:




Fri 15 Jan 1000 ET – Bilingual-Multilingual Interest Section (B-MEIS) webinar on Multilingualism, Social Justice and Intercultural Competence in the Remote World of Virtual Exchange

Through a dialogue format that will include both students and teachers in the virtual exchange program between the U.S. and Spain, we will engage in a critical discussion of language and culture, their power and the challenges in supporting cross-cultural collaborations.



Devin Thornburg is an educator, psychologist and committed advocate for social justice and human rights in his teaching, his scholarship and his life. He is a tenured Full Professor at Adelphi University and just published a book on trust within learning.



Óscar Ceballos is Academic Director and professor at CIEE Seville, where he has developed multiple programs for undergraduate students and faculty from the U.S.. He graduated from the School of Fine Arts at the University of Seville in 1989 where he also holds an MA of art and philosophy.



Dr. Clara Vaz Bauler is an associate professor of TESOL/Bilingual Education at Adelphi University. Her research focuses on how digital media technology can be used to support multilingual learners’ academic writing skills while valuing their voices, linguistic assets and composition strategies, ways to better prepare pre-service an in-service teachers to effectively work with linguistically diverse learners in face-to-face and remote learning environments, and integration of disciplinary content, academic discourses, and translanguaging practices to support and empower emergent bilinguals.


Sat 16 & 23 & 30 Jan 1400-1600 UTC – VSTE Second Life Saturdays – repeats each Saturday

About this intitiative, https://vste.org/upcoming-events-virtual-environments-pln/

Jaz and Thunder are at VSTE Space in Second Life every Saturday morning from 5 am to 7 am Pacific time.

Feel free to come learn more about the VSTE VE PLN there. Follow VSTE on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VSTEVEPLN/

 Below are directions for joining the VSTE VE PLN in Second Life and Minecraft

Basic directions to join VSTE Spaces

If you don’t have a Second Life account get one, it’s free. We recommend setting one up at the Rockcliffe University Consortium’s Gateway here: https://urockcliffe.com/reg/second-life/ 

  1. Download and install the software.
  2. While your Second Life viewer (software) is open click this link http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Soulgiver/155/144/58 
  3. and voila! Look for an avatar on VSTE Island and say, “Hey, I’m new!” We will take care of the rest.  


Sat 23 Jan starting 0900 UTC – Prof. David Crystal at the English Department of Sri Sivasubramaniya Nadar College of Engineering virtual ELT conference 

The English Department of Sri Sivasubramaniya Nadar College of Engineering, Chennai, India – as an extension of its virtual ELT conference – is hosting plenary webinar talks by Prof. David Crystal on 23 January 2021.

Session 1: 2:30 to 3:30 pm presumably in Chennai – The future of Englishes


Session 2: 4:40 to 5:30 – English Accents – Past, present, future


The event flyer with all the details can be accessed here.

You can check the local time of this event by clicking here.
In case you are interested please register here so as to receive the webinar joining instructions by email.

They have not announced a recording to my knowledge.


Sat 23 Jan 1400 UTC TESOL CALL-IS webinar – Open Educational Resources 101

TESOL CALL-IS cordially invited visitors to the webinar: 
Open Educational Resources 101: Finding and Using Free Resources in Your Classroom 

Presenters: Dr. Christine Sabieh, Dr. Nellie Deutsch, Charity Davenport, Sharon Tjaden-Glass

Registration link: http://tinyurl.com/CALLIS-OERwebinar 




This blog is written and maintained by Vance Stevens
You are free to share-alike and with attribution under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

The date of this update is February 6, 2021 10:00 UTC





One thought on “Week 3 in EVO Minecraft MOOC highlights – Trading string for emeralds and networking on the AZcraft server

  1. Pingback: Week 4 in EVO Minecraft MOOC highlights – Networking with and learning from students and peers | Learning2gether

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s