Week 4 in EVO Minecraft MOOC highlights – Networking with and learning from students and clustered peers

Learning2gether Episode 508


Learn about MineAcademy from Rose Bard
Learning redstone basics from Jamie’s young son Finch
See other highlights from EVOMC 2021 Week 4 – Cluster

Skip down to Earlier Events that happened since the previous Learning2gther post

Mon-Sun 1-7 Feb EVO Minecraft MOOC Week 4 – Cluster

EVOMC 2021 Week 4 – Cluster – Mon-Sun, Feb. 1-7, 2021

2021-02-08_21.37.34Bobbi Bear attracted a cluster of arrows on this visit to a dark alcove.

EVO Minecraft MOOC has ended as of this writing (see current date at bottom of this page as opposed to publication date above). This post provides an encapsulation of and a reflection on Week 4 of the 5 week EVO workshop session.

EVO is Electronic Village Online, http://evosessions.pbworks.com. EVO is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. EVO Minecraft MOOC (EVOMC) is in its 7th year. I started EVO Minecraft MOOC (EVOMC15) so that I could learn about Minecraft and how I could possibly use it with students. My first forays with Minecraft were rather clumsy but we had gathered together a group of other noobs like myself as well as a smattering of colleague gamers who served as our gurus, plus some equally knowledgeable children. In that first and subsequent years the community has scaffolded us noobs into becoming less clumsy, little by little, year by year. Along the way we in EVOMC have become a true and vibrant community of practice inculcated into the participatory culture inherent in the game Minecraft and its surrounding larger community of Minecraft players and teachers everywhere.

I decided to dedicate each week to one of Dave Cormier’s five stages of success in MOOCs. These stages describe a natural progression of people becoming involved in MOOCs: Orient, Declare, Network, Cluster, and Focus.

2021-02-07_18.52.08One day the itinerant trader brought his llamas to cluster in our house for a while. No telling how they got in 🙂

Week 4 is the week that people in EVOMC21 might logically cluster according to the interests of certain members of the group. In our case, I think we formed two distinct clusters according to our timeszones.  Where I am in Malaysia, I was 12 hours distant from participants in the USA. There were many in between, but the most active participants in the USA, UK, and Egypt gravitated to the AZcraft server (Arizona?) where there was a very lively community of highly creative young miners. Thus our group tended to cluster on just diurnal rhythms.


Dakotah Redstone confronts a hoglin one eventful evening in the nether. He encourages me to plunder the chests we find; says he’s in it for the bacon 🙂

Others of us found compatible players to accompany us in game. Bobbi Bear and I (Teacher Vance) clustered naturally with Mirea, a night owl teacher in San Francisco who seemed to enjoy our style of tutelage at first and quickly became proficient enough to teach us a few ropes. We also had a significant didactic encounter with Finch, the young son of one of our other participants. Finch took Bobbi Bear and I through the basics of redstone and showed us how to trigger mechanisms with it. We recorded that and posted it on YouTube, and archived it here as the second article in this blog post.


Mirea Artican joins Dakotah and I and completes the cluster in the nether. Survival is possible under Dak’s expert guidance. Bobbi Bear passes messages from the overworld.

We also carried on with our networking with other co-communities. One of our longest running of these associations has been with VSTE, Virginia Society for Technology in Education. Kim Harrison, aka K4sons, hosts a Minecraft Monday event on the first Monday of every month. She is also a co-moderator of EVOMC21, and so our first event in Week 4 (last article in this post) featured K4son’s hosting of Dark Knight’s redstone workshop, part 2.

This post leads with an introduction to Bard Rose’s MineAcademy English Club, which she has set up as a space to allow her students to grow into English language learning though the meaningful play that we teachers are enjoying in order to learn what we want to know –> how Rose and other teachers in our community are using Minecraft to achieve desired outcomes with students. As this will be her focus for some time to come, and as she has invited us to join her in her MineAcademy journey, her presentation segues us nearly into week 5 of our MOOC, the focus stage.

Sun 07 Feb 1400 UTC – MineAcademy English Club – Bard Rose hosting

🙃Topics of the session and pre-session reading task:
✅MineAcademy project: what I’ve done so far and what is next
✅Pedagogical approach: language learning and project-based frameworks I’ve designed in 2020
✅Discussion on Managing learners community in-game

📑Before discussing in-game management for educational purposes, I’ll discuss techniques of how game designers build community in and out of game.
💭“A ‘community’ can be thought of as a group of people who share informal relationships that are intimate, enduring, intense, and emotional. Communities form around a shared interest, need or expertise”

Online Community Building Techniques Used by Video Game Developers

This event was announced

Session description:

If students can learn English in a physical classroom with limited concrete resources, why wouldn’t they develop their communicative skills if class could happen inside in immersive ludic environment? Minecraft provides concrete experiences and meaningful opportunities to learn and practice the language. In MineAcademy English Club the official language is English; projects are negotiated and agency is promoted.

I’d love to share with EVOMC community how MineAcademy started, give an overview of the pedagogical frameworks I’ve created for language learning and managing project-based learning, and discuss managing students in-game.

And here’s the recording, https://youtu.be/wOsxn1lQDaw

Rose has blogged her own reflection on her presentation, here

There are many insights here but a pleasantly graphical one was how she characterized answers to one of the questions she had the audience answer in Mentimeter. The question was: “What challenges would you think we could face while running a class with children and teens in Minecraft (participants)?” and here is how she categorized the responses:

Credit: Categorizing participants’ answers as either cognitive or affective challenges (Rosemere Bard, 2021)

Learning redstone basics from Jamie’s young son Finch

Tue 09 Feb 0300 UTC Learning about Redstone with Finch and Jamie

This image is one of Teacher Vance’s screenshots from Dark Knight’s Tue 3 Nov VSTE Minecraft Monday workshop on Redstone basics

Teacher Vance knows a little about redstone in theory but has never built anything with it. Jamie’s son Finch is eager to show us what he knows about creating traps with redstone. Hopefully that means traps not meant for other players, using skills that can be applied to triggering mechanisms in general.

Finch agreed to meet Teacher Vance and Bobbi Bear online at 3 am UTC on Tue Feb 9 and show us what he knows

I thought we would have these problems, assuming we would be playing in survival mode, as we usually do.

  1. We’ll have to find some redstone
  2. We’ll have to find a safe and appropriate place for our sandbox activities
  3. Finch will have to show us the basics
  4. We’ll go from there, avoiding inconvenience to other players

But we solved these problems by playing in CREATIVE MODE at /warp creativespawn on our EVOMC21 server.

The informal tutorial was recorded and is available here, https://youtu.be/DBuBmgzyw3E

This event is a good example of many of the basic tenants of Minecraft pedagogy. Kids like to be clever and creative and apply critical thinking to projects that engage them. They like to communicate about their projects though spoken discourse and even create records of them such as written or multimedia descriptions in order to teach their teachers, if one is available, but more so to communicate with their peers who may in turn be sharing what they know with them. The situation is ripe for presenting opportunities for community-based authentic communication in a first or target or tandem language language environment.

Minecraft-driven learning is just-in-time learning where students use google to research solutions to immediate conundrums (e.g. how do I make a hoe / start a farm in Minecraft). It is student-driven but can be teacher mediated if the teacher is familiar enough with the environment to mediate it. Thus it can be serendipitous and unpredictable, but with a teacher skilled in massaging the Minecraft environment, those features can be used along with the many inherently gamified elements in Minecraft to keep students playing as linguistic (or other) concepts are acquired.

Heartwarming feedback, speaks for itself (I’m in it for the participants, be they kids or peers):

Thanks Vance – Finch had a great time and talked about it all day the next day – thanks so much for the opportunity. He has been brainstorming since then about he and I could start a Minecraft English school together… so, while I’m not sure about THAT, I do love the collaborative opportunities it could bring! 🙂

***** (6 hours later, and I still haven’t emailed this)*****

As soon as finch got home from school today he started creating a ’school’ in Minecraft and talking more and more about his plan to start a school. I’m trying to lean him toward creating a list of topics that he’d like to teach about… and then we’ll go from there! 🙂 If I can figure out how to get our accounts unlinked from each other, I could be his pupil and we could do a Minecraft for Moms series…

Anyway, thank you for the fun event and I love this group and the way you have it set up. I’m sorry I struggle to be more involved during the 5 week sessions – but I do hope to keep up with you all in EVO from time to time moving forward.

Where did this happen?

  • On the EVO Minecraft MOOC 2021_server
  • We were able to speak to one another in our EVO Minecraft MOOC 2021_Discord

Announcements of this event were made

Tweeted accordingly:

We now have 8 tweeted reflections from 2 EVO MInecraft MOOC participants at this link

Other highlights from EVOMC 2021 Week 4 – Cluster

Sat-Sun 6-7 Feb Spontaneous meetups on the EVO Minecraft MOOC server

In an attempt to increase the likelihood of connecting with tutors / tutees I started a spreadsheet with I maintained hour by hour while I was monitoring the server (pretty much in COVID lockdown here in Malaysia; not wise to be out much).

Mirea noted on the spreadsheet when she would be around


I noticed from the dynamic map that she was spending time at this /warp double_village and made a screenshot to show here that there were interesting builds in her neighborhood. I didn’t want to intrude but just let her know that Bobbi Bear and I were available.

She didn’t respond right away so Bobbi and I found our way to the desert village that Sura had created, reaching there by water from the double_village warp.

Mirea joined us there. We showed her how to get back on the river, but she wanted to spend more time at the village.

Later she sent us some information on what she had learned about cactus, besides that it cost you hearts if you ran up against it in the desert.

Thu 04 Feb 0200 UTC – EVOMC21 explores together what’s beyond the door that says Enter if you Dare

Bobbi Bear and I decided to recruit volunteers to accompany us in an exploration of what lies behind the sign teasingly placed on a door somewhere on our EVO Minecraft MOOC server.

In this spreadsheet, https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/14kSDVi8jhLN7LGyYpoBj61IFaJa0kFG3fe1QOaOisuM/edit#gid=0

Mirea Artican posted that she would like to explore together what’s beyond the door that says, “Enter if you dare!”

Moderator team Bobbi Bear and Teacher Vance entered our names in the moderator column to volunteer to accompany her

Here is the door in question;

and its position in our world relative to Spawn

Teacher Vance went down to reconnoiter and found a set of caverns, fairly well lit, with waterfalls that help with orientation.

Though precipitous drops I could see magma below. I only went down to about level 40 or so. Later we discovered that you could step down and land in pools of water at the bottom and not be injured, or ride waterfall elevators for much of the way down to level 11, where the goodies are, but it’s just above the magma.

When I revisited I will carried only things easily replaced,

  • a bed,
  • a stone sword
  • both stone and iron pickaxes
  • torches and spare sticks and coal,
  • some carrots or any sufficient food
  • a chest, in case I want to leave anything I find in a safe place before exploring further
  • a stack each of dirt and cobblestone, handy for marking the way back, making bridges and repairs, and easily removed afterwards

Where did this happen?

We made announcements made on

Video Title:
EVO Minecraft MOOC miners cluster behind the door that says Enter if you DARE! on the EVOMC21 server

What happened?

In this Meaningful Play Sandbox Tutorial Adventure on the EVO Minecraft MOOC 2021 server, Bobbi Bear and I opened the door that says Enter if you DARE!  Behind it we explored towering caverns flowing with waterfalls and magma, all the way down to level 11. While we were still above level 20 Mirea joined us, after resolving problems with her computer or connection.

We soon realized that this cave area fell within the EVOMC21 protected spawn area, so there were no monsters here. Bobbi Bear and I also realized when we came upon the house that we had created here just off the river flowing through the deep trench, that we had been here before, though it seemed that the ways out had been altered. The boats were still on the river, but there were no mobs sitting in them, no archers on the ledges above, and looking at the map, we saw that the trench itself had been re-terraformed. It was not the gash in the land that it once was and just a small part of it remained exposed to the open sky.

However, ample rewards awaited our pursuit of the way down to level 11. That area had been meticulously strip mined, with multiple 1-block wide by two-blocks tall passages made to expose mineral deposits in the walls. We found redstone and diamonds and even a bed of obsidian, which Mirea used to make bridges in the lava so we could reach further diamonds.

By now Jane had joined us along with Mattie, who went swimming in the lava and emerged as if from water. Bobbi’s and Mirea’s cats both tried that but with the expected sadly different results. Zzidkha and Sura noticed five people on the server and came down to see what’s up, so we had achieved a cluster for Week 4.

After almost an hour Zzidkha and Mattie and Jane warped over to the wool race course on the old server, which I have a feeling we are going to hear more about before the end of Week 5. The rest of us joined them but Bobbi Bear and I stopped the video and returned to real life, where we had been delaying our breakfast.

Tue 02 Feb 0100 UTC VSTE Minecraft Monday in conjunction with EVOMC21; K4sons hosting

VSTE Minecraft Monday in conjunction with EVOMC21; K4sons hosting, took place at 8 pm EST on Feb 1, which is 1 am UTC; hence the disparity in days

It was recorded by Jane Chien on behalf of EVO Minecraft MOOC

Dark Knight did part two of his redstone tutorial. Part one was on Monday, 2 November, 2020. Teacher Vance attended on that day, but did not record it without permission; plus I saw that the Minecraft app was being streamed into Discord.


That’s when I learned that Discord doesn’t do recordings. I made it a point to record this one. The last one was great.

On Nov 2, I only made these screenshots. It was hands-on and took place in the workshop space shown here in Minecraft. We moved from challenge to challenge, and the last challenges were left to this second session. I hope Dark Knight will recap the first ones.

Minecraft Mondays occur on the first Monday of any month at 8 PM Eastern time on the VSTE Place server
minecraft.vste.org:11002. (GMT -5)

Basic directions to join VSTE Place, VSTE’s Minecraft world

You must have a computer Minecraft account from https://minecraft.net/en/ to join. There is a one time fee of $26.95.

  1. Download and install the software.
  2. Make sure you have installed and are running version 1.16.5
  3. Choose multiplayer and add a server: Name VSTE Place IP: minecraft.vste.org:11002.
  4. Our server is protected. You will need to be whitelisted to enter.
    Email Kim Harrison at K4sons@gmail.com from an educational email address with your real name and Minecraft account name.
    K4sons told me that for this event the whitelist will be switched OFF so no need to worry about that on this day.
    But if you want to return, you’ll need to get whitelisted.

We’ll be using VSTE’s Discord server

Discord is a voice and screen sharing application that will run on your computer or mobile device.

  1. Download and install it for free.
  2. Create an account. Many of us use the same name for our Discord account as our Minecraft account to keep things simple.
  3. Our channel is https://discord.gg/cp9tsWz

It helps us to be able to play Minecraft in one screen and listen via Discord with earbuds or headphones.

K4sons will post an invitation link in our EVOMC21 Discord server the day before the event. The invitation is good for one day.

We will distribute the invitation link as best we can for anyone wishing to join us in this well established and highly creative and knowledgeable community of educators and students.

Earlier Events

Sun 31 Jan, 2021 – Various EVO Minecraft MOOC moderators and participants engage during Week 3 in EVO Minecraft MOOC highlights – Trading string for emeralds and networking on the AZcraft server


Fri-Sat 5-6 Feb 2021 NileTESOL free Virtual Conference

The 25th NileTESOL Conference will take place online on February 5 and 6, 2021. The theme of the conference is “Digitize Globalize”. This year, we are celebrating the conference Silver Jubilee and it is the hope of the Organizing Committee to offer you a great and memorable professional development experience with our selected Egyptian and international plenary, featured, and conference presenters.

Please find information on our conference plenary speakers on this link.

The conference is offered this year for free to support EFL professionals in Egypt and internationally. There is no pre-registration required. All you need to have is the Webinar ID and Passcode in the program book to enter the Zoom room and enjoy a diverse program of sessions for two days. Please note that the Zoom room capacity is limited, so please login on time to secure a place.

Find the 2021 NileTESOL Virtual Conference Conference Program, with Zoom IDs and passcodes on this link.

Direct link to program, https://drive.google.com/file/d/11ifTKuK_w1Jve_GM0c5iEBGa_BjtSJgW/view

Fri-Sun Feb 5-7 – The 17th Annual CamTESOL Conference, held virtually

The 17th Annual CamTESOL Conference will be held virtually on 5-7 February 2021, under the theme ‘Actions and Innovations in Teaching and Learning.’

The CamTESOL virtual conference continues to ensure that presenters and delegates’ journey at the conference is convenient and friendly. At the upcoming 17th CamTESOL virtual conference:

  • The ‘CamTESOL App’ and ‘Zoom’ platform will be used for presenters to deliver their 45-minutes interactive sessions
  • There will be a chair and a coordinator in each session to ensure a smooth flow, including Q&A
  • Special training and tips on ‘How to present virtually’ will be provided to all presenters if their abstracts are accepted

Conference Registration (it wasn’t free)

Early rate

(Paid by 17 January 2021)

Standard rate

(Paid after 17 January 2021)

Citizen of ASEAN countries US$ 20 US$ 40
Non-Citizen of ASEAN countries  US$ 25 US$ 50

Sat 6 Feb 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.

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 19, 2021 13:00 UTC

2 thoughts on “Week 4 in EVO Minecraft MOOC highlights – Networking with and learning from students and clustered peers

  1. Thanks Vance for the extensive review. I know you’ve been doing Minecraft for many years and my son is a big user, but I’ve never found time to jump in. I see a lot of value for volunteers and youth in organized tutor/mentor programs, especially during the pandemic. I’ll keep trying to point people to your articles.

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