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EVO Minecraft MOOC at the TESOL 2021 Virtual Conference CALL-IS Classics Tech Fair


This is the storyboard and show notes the EVO Minecraft MOOC pre-recorded presentation

for the TESOL 2021 Virtual Conference Computer-assisted Language Learning Interest Classics Tech Fair




Discover more at the EVO Minecraft MOOC home portal: http://minecraftmooc.org (or http://missions4evomc.pbworks.com/)



Media prepared for this presentation


Google Slides


The slides are here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ZFYNT4BdgTeSEFrNF2K2haN8SBsPphem/view?usp=sharing


The ten minute classics presentation submitted on Flipgrid 


A ten minute video has been submitted on behalf of EVO Minecraft MOOC to this Flipgrid https://flipgrid.com/b510543a 

The video itself is here, https://flipgrid.com/374152e3 


The 20 minute extended rehearsal video on YouTube


The 10 min. video was pared down from an original 20 min version which I uploaded to YouTube here: 




The longer video has more of an introduction than the cut-down version. The longer text is here


Hi everyone, I’m Vance Stevens. I was the first official chair of CALL-IS in 1985 and I’ve been an EVO coordinator since 2003. I’ve been the lead moderator for EVO Minecraft MOOC over the past seven years. I have often presented the work of our team at TESOL conferences and that is how I was invited once again to be a part of this 2021 TESOL Virtual CALL-IS Classics Faire.


My presentation today is on how EVO Minecraft MOOC prepares teachers and learners to engage effectively through Minecraft. Every January and February for the past 7 years, my co-moderators and I  have worked with one another, and occasionally with our children and students, to experiment with and engage each other in meaningful play in the game.


I have only ten minutes here to give you a taste of how this works so I decided to save time and let you read through these screens on your own and then take you into Minecraft itself so you can see what we’ve done in EVO Minecraft MOOC this past EVO session. In the video snippets that follow, we want to suggest how you might leverage the many affordances for language development inherent in Minecraft to get your students reading about, talking about, and listening to videos about, acting out and narrating what they might want to achieve in Minecraft. 


Teachers who become proficient in Minecraft can take advantage of what is compelling about the game to turn their students’ interest into pedagogically viable outcomes. As you watch what follows, try and imagine if some of your teaching could be ported over to this creative, engaging, and incessantly problem-solving environment. 


For more information you can return to this page and follow the links. 

Right now it’s show time



Show notes on the videos used in this presentation


The longer version has more and longer video snippets, all taken from video recorded during 2021 EVO Minecraft MOOC events and meetups held on the EVOMC21 server. All of these are listed on this page: http://missions4evomc.pbworks.com/w/page/142133859/2021_Live_Events


Playlist of videos included in the long presentation version (some were cut from the 10 min version)


The commentary on below should enable you to branch out from what you see in the video segments included in the two version  of the presentation to their full context in the original video and understand what was going on before and after that segment, and why I intended to include it in the video presentation. 


This is a list of all videos used in the long 20 min presentation, with descriptions and reasons for inclusion. Here, find listed the


  • The embedded videos themselves with their YouTube video titles, and the reason for their inclusion
  • What is said at the start of each segment included, so you can more easily match the presentation video with its start point in the source video
  • A link to the YouTube video containing the original source video, queued to the correct place in that video, with time in that video indicated as well.
  • The time that the source extract appears in the 20 minute video 
  • A link to the more detailed description of the context of each video segment in the wiki page where it is documented  


Some of these had to be cut out of the shorter presentation entirely; many were reduced in length to get the video play time down below 10, the maximum allowed to be uploaded to Flipgrid, where the videos have been hosted for all the CALL-IS EV Fair virtual presentations.



1. Bobbi Bear shares the art of cat taming with Teacher Vance and Mirea Artican in EVO Minecraft MOOC



Reason for inclusion

This video sequence illustrates how a process can be set up in Minecraft which can be exploited later for language learning purposes (or for whatever purpose in other subject skills). In this case we start by visiting a string farm where Sura (Laura Briggs), one of our moderators most highly skilled in creating builds where projects could be carried out in EVOMC21, had walled off a spider spawner in such a way that spiders would attempt to attack us through a slat through which we could kill them with our swords. Spiders ‘drop’ string and eyeballs when killed, and these would accumulate somehow in a chest below the slat, where they could be harvested in bulk by players retrieving them from the chest.




2. Teacher Vance, Bobbi Bear, and Mirea trade string for emeralds and then buy arrows with the emeralds



Reason for inclusion

In step 2 of the process, players take their string from a market someone (I have yet to find out who :-) has created at the top of a tower at a savannah village. Villages take on certain occupations and will trade with players when they are right clicked on. For example there is a fisherman at the top of the tower who needs string so he will take your string and give you emeralds for it. At another market stall near the fisherman, there is a fletcher, who makes arrows. You can take your emeralds to him and purchase his arrows. It’s easy to make bows in Minecraft but to shoot them you need arrows, and those are harder to craft (they require feathers and flint, and the latter is particularly more tedious to come upon while playing Minecraft). So if you have a means of getting string in bulk at a string farm and a market where you can sell the string for emeralds, and trade the emeralds for arrows, your bow becomes functional in battle.




3. Teacher Vance’s comedy of errors battle 



Reason for inclusion (This video was left out of the 10 min version)

This video segment shows one reason players need arrows. Here, a reliable supply of arrows helped us to get rid of skeletons and zombies that materialized suddenly as we were leaving a village. It is entertaining and completes an understanding of the process from string farm to tower market, but it had to be eliminated from the short version due to time considerations.




4. Teacher Finch shows Teacher Vance, Bobbi Bear & Mirea Artican redstone skills in EVO Minecraft MOOC



Reason for inclusion

This is a good example of how young learners can teach peers, and in this case, elder learners about Minecraft, which provides an excellent and authentic motivation for them to communicatively use their language skills. Here, Finch has agreed to explain to us how to make simple machines using redstone, pistons, repeaters, and other devices found or crafted in Minecraft. Finch is a native speaker of English, but his vocabulary is not quite up to the task (he paraphrases a lot with the word ‘thingy’). But when learners identify such shortcomings they are then in position to rectify them and with reasons to communicate in various media deriving from gameplay in Minecraft, a process of autonomous learning is set in motion.





5. Dakotah Redstone guides EVO Minecraft MOOCers through Endicot to capture the dragon head in the End



Reason for inclusion

This is an example of the scaffolding that occurs constantly among educator peers who congregate on the EVO Minecraft server. In this example, Dakotah Restone, a retired educational technologist with a passion for Minecraft and a supercharged skill set in-world, created a shelter in the End, which is a biome in Minecraft which was created by its developers as a kind of an end game, an ultimate adventure. Access to the end is complicated, but Dak (as we call him) went there and allowed us to tp (teleport) to him. There are dangers in the End not present in the overworld. For example, endermen spawn there, and there are endermen throughout the biome; some can be seen in this video sequence. They aren’t dangerous as long as you don’t move your crosshairs over their eyes (which constitutes staring at them, which makes them shake with anger, teleport to wherever you are, and crush you with whatever they are carrying). The danger encountered in this video is a shulker, which I had never seen before, which shoots at you with balls that alter trajectory by 90 degrees, making them hard to dodge. When they hit you they raise you in the air and drop you, which could cause your death and need to return after respawn (in our game, you would find your death chest containing whatever you had been carrying near where you were forced to exit the game; team players assist here by finding it for you and waiting for your teleport, and then by guarding your back while you retrieve what’s inside. We communicate with each other in Discord, a voice app with an impressive array of features that encourage community formation.This is an experience that is much more enjoyable when done in collaboration with others more knowledgeable than you, and which you might not undertake at all if it were not for the presence of mentors. This is how teachers can learn a range of features in the game, and have modeled for them how they would apply this technique for guiding students into desired learning experiences, or arranging for students to do the mentoring and guide learning experiences for their teachers and peers.




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



Reason for inclusion

EVO Minecraft MOOC follows a 5 week ‘syllabus’ loosely patterned on Dave Cormier’s 5 stages of coping in MOOCs. The stages are orient, declare, network, cluster, and focus. This video shows a snippet of our visit to the AZcraft server, which is a family run server hosting young learners who apparently manage things themselves (lots of 20th century competency skills involved in that). It is a survival world server, though for the purposes of our visit the sys op granted everyone 20 minutes of metered flying time. This segment shows us flying over a build created by a young lady completely in survival, as were all the creations we were shown, which can be seen in the full video (whose link is given above). This illustrates the intensity of focus that young people often apply to projects in Minecraft, which is an affordance that teachers might do well to exploit.




7 Olivetree_Gro tutors Teacher Vance & Bobbi Bear from Knowhere Zero to Enchanted - EVO Minecraft MOOC



Reason for inclusion

There are several aspects to this video segment. For one thing, Bobbi Bear and Teacher Vance arranged for Olivetree Grove to show us how to enchant objects. We invited others in our community but we were the only ones to attend live, though we recorded it. Enchantments can be Googled, but it saves time if learners can have it explained and demonstrated and have their questions answered by someone knowledgeable in what they want to learn.The second thing was that Bobbi and I wanted to apply a particular enchantment, to put it on a helmet we could wear to enable us to breath under water. This has applications not only for observing the underwater fauna available in the most recent versions of Minecraft, but for staying underwater long enough to recover death chests there, to open and retrieve objects from trunks in sunken shipwrecks, and to explore underwater temples. All of these abilities open even further possibilities and avenues for exploration and for accumulating objects which in turn might be keys to even further discovery. One example which I didn’t have time to cover in this video was fishing. When I was shown how to fish, we got poles (easily crafted from string and sticks) which we threw in the water, hauled up fish and other objects, and entered the results in a database. That is one kind of learning. But Minecraft is gamified in a way that the act of fishing produces other rewards. For example you get experience points for catching fish, which again I had no idea what to do with until I learned that in order to enchant objects, you need to buy that ability with some of your experience points. Then you can enchant your fishing pole in various ways. One enchantment, luck of the sea, pulls up a variety of useful objects; for example saddle after saddle. Now you can tame and ride horses. With the fish you can tame cats. Your pet cats bring you small items while you sleep at night; e.g feathers for making arrows, and so on. The depth of the game and the possibilities for communicating through a target language to explain its many permutations are both wide open.  





8. Teacher Vance & Bobbi Bear follow a treasure map to a happy ending on the EVO Minecraft MOOC server



Reason for inclusion

Maps can be acquired from chests on sunken ships or from villages who will give them to you through trading. The process of following these maps requires a lot of critical thinking and real world orientation skills. Maps set players on ultimate scavenger hunts. They lead to things like buried treasure (as you can see in this video) or to locations such as Woodland Mansions, which open up another world of research for players wishing to survive breaking into one. Teachers could make maps to desert and jungle temples, both rife for explorations, but best done as part of a mentor-mentee team, or having google-researched how to crack them. Think of all the autonomous learning and language skills involved in acquiring maps, deciphering them, and unraveling what is at other end (in our video it was a buried treasure chest).




9. Teacher Vance, Bobbi Bear, & Mirea Artican ride the awesome water slide for zombie mining at EVOMC21



Reason for inclusion

When players enter the world for the first time they are totally empty handed and need to chop down trees to make things like crafting tables, swords, pickaxes from which they can get cobblestone, etc. Two immediate needs are to eat and to make beds so they can sleep in shelters and bring on the dawn. The most obvious solution to eating is to kill animals and cook them in furnaces made from cobblestone. Sheep are a good target because they can also provide wool, which you can combine with wood to make a bed. However a player trying to survive in MC in this way would eventually deplete all the animals in the immediate vicinity.. One soon learns in MC, either through reading about it or working in-game with peers, that sustainable means are possible for all the items needed to not only survive but to thrive. You don’t need to eat from animals, you can grow crops. When you find a village you’ll likely find wheat, carrots or potatoes growing there. You can take a few (and replant them if you wish to be a good citizen). You can take them ‘home’ and start your own farm. In the video Bobbi Bear is standing near our farm. She is feeding wheat to cows. If you feed adjacent cows or sheep wheat they will produce a small animal of the same kind. You can travel in your neighborhood and feed the wild sheep. Eventually you will find iron, and from this you can make shears and get wool from the sheep without killing them, so you can make all the beds you want, and carpets you can set on fence posts to hop over them. The same with trees. When you cut one down it will ‘drop’ saplings which you can replant to restore your forests. So this video segment has been included to show, through Bobbi feeding penned cows to make calves, in the midst of a developed farm, one aspect of this thread of sustainability which permeates Minecraft.



  1. Starting here: “Bobbi’s feeding cows”
  2. At 0:24, this queued video location: https://youtu.be/YindsQ8xpX8?t=24
  3. Time location in the 20 min video: 14:16
  4. Live Events wiki description


10. Teacher Vance, Bobbi Bear, & Mirea Artican ride the awesome water slide for zombie mining at EVOMC21



Reason for inclusion

This video illustrates how our Sura, who designed some of our most accessible learning environments in EVOMC21, created a waterfall with a sunken entry which led into a cave all the way down to level 11, where magma spawns, and where the rarest minerals are most likely to be found. This illustrates how teachers with the requisite skills can design environments that will lead students into facilitated learning journeys; the destination doesn’t have to be a mine - it could be a laboratory, a historical replica; whatever the teacher thinks will engage students in augmenting their learning.



11. Teacher Vance, Bobbi Bear & Mirea Artican mine Flower Forest Continuous Caves in EVO Minecraft MOOC



Reason for inclusion

This cave entrance has been enhanced by Sura, who created a warp to it and invited us all to visit, in order to mine down to level 11 in “continuous caves”. She told me that the flowers outside already existed in a particular kind of forest biome, which she discovered and made accessible. She has also altered the caves inside to create ways down to the lower levels. You don’t see that in the video segment used in this presentation, but if you watch the full length video you do. 




12. Teacher Vance, Bobbi Bear, & Mirea Artican revisit mobs in Flower Forest Continuous Caves at EVOMC21  (left out of the 10 min version)




13. EVOMC21 pre-session Kickoff BBQ and fireworks - Meet at the spawn point and go by boat to Dak's place



Reason for inclusion

MC is nothing if not social. Whatever the ulterior motive, and for we in EVOMC it’s to familiarize ourselves with the environment so as to learn how to adapt it to use with learners, the impetus for being there is to have fun while engaging with like minded learners. This sounds like a recipe for a party, which was why Dak started us off on our first day of EVOMC21 with a barbecue at his place. We met at the spawn point and took boats to the opposite shore and then ran around in circles being silly. Toward the end of the affair we lined up for a group photo, punctuated by Mattie and his fireworks crossbow (now how did he make that? We’ll have to ask him one day). This came at the beginning of our EVOMC21 session but my presentation ends with Mattie’s mother explaining “what happened?” The video is intended here to emphasize the social nature of meaningful play in Minecraft.




Other presentations about EVO Minecraft MOOC at the TESOL 2021 Virtual Conference


EVO Minecraft MOOC in the Best of the Electronic Village Online live presentation in Zoom


EVO Minecraft MOOC at the MWIS/CPPLN Academic Session ID 1926, titled Creating Materials in a Digital World


My discussion of EVO Minecraft MOOC starts at 16 min into this video





PBworks reclaims URLs when they have not been revisited for a year.

This wiki was visited and altered by adding this text on October 11, 2021\


edited Aug. 2023 







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