Today, Roblox launched Roblox Education, an initiative to produce free curriculum for educators and summer coding camps. Roblox hopes the program will spark new creativity in the 60 million kids who utilize their platform and encourage students to pursue careers in coding. In addition, Robolox and Universal Brand Development are launching a Creator Challenge that will help kids learn how to program by creating Jurassic World-inspired video games, with lessons ranging from modifying the topography of a landscape to testing the effects of implementing new game mechanics.
Grace Francisco, VP of Developer Relations at Roblox, was willing to answer a few questions we had about this new program.
Coding, Design, and Physics are all pretty advanced curriculums. How do you think virtual reality will help students grasp these concepts?
Roblox is an entertainment platform for play that welcomes more than 60 million kids each month, who come to play with their friends in virtual worlds. We believe the open-ended immersive, and active experiences that Roblox provides is what has captivated kids and teens – the ability to not only play within these virtual worlds, but create and build their own. These same principles can be extended to learning Coding, Design, and Physics – creating or designing something in a virtual world makes the curriculum tangible and immersive in a way that can’t be replicated in a traditional classroom setting.
What is your long-term vision for this program? What do you hope the students get out of it? What do you hope Roblox gets out of it?
This is the start of an ongoing initiative. We are dedicated to continuing to identify new ways that we can support parents, teachers, and young creators in having access to entertaining and educational tools that inspire imagination. Students will learn valuable coding skills based on the programming language, Lua, which can be used to develop on the Roblox platform, but also on other platforms as well. In addition, students will learn valuable entrepreneurial skills that they can use in all aspects of their lives for years to come. Roblox is a user-generated content platform that thrives on the creations of those in our community. Roblox provides the infrastructure and support for all experiences created and shared on the Roblox platform, and therefore the platform will benefit as more and more members of the community create and share what they have learned.
Not every person takes to virtual reality very well. A friend of mine gets quite dizzy and nauseous when she plays. What steps are you implementing for students who want to design in virtual reality, but can’t wear the headset to test or enjoy their creation?
Roblox is not limited to virtual-reality environments. We are an multi-platform entertainment that gives young people the opportunity play with one another in virtual worlds. Our platform enables users to build and publish immersive 3D multiplayer games that can be enjoyed on mobile devices, computers, the Xbox One console, and virtual reality. We offer several options so if someone doesn’t take to VR well they have the ability to use other devices.
Despite numerous advancements in this line of thinking, coding is still considered by many to be a “boys” field of study. What steps are you taking to ensure girls are signing up to?
Balancing the scales of gender equality in tech is very important to us and we’re proud that we’ve built a platform where 60 million of the young people coming to play every month is nearly equally split across gender. When it comes to game development, we believe there are ways to help balance the scales that we strive to implement, such as providing easily accessible tools to people of all ages to learn to develop and create the virtual worlds they want to see. We aim to create immersive programs that are attractive to girls and boys and actively convey the opportunity as gender neutral.
What types of skills will students learn through these trainings, and what types of futures will these skills prepare them for?
When learning to design, develop, publishing and maintain a virtual world within Roblox, future makers learn the foundation of programming, as well as game design, digital citizenship, and entrepreneurial skills. From understanding how to listen to the needs of your audience to designing entertaining games that keep an audience engaged, these are skills that will lend to careers in STEM or more creative fields that require critical thinking and problem-solving.