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People, especially young dudes, learn best when they are having fun at the same time.  They are motivated, engaged and WANT to improve.  So much of school is boring chalk and talk, a throwback to the Industrial Revolution where employers wanted their workers to sitting in rows, doing the same thing at the same time.  Compare the factories on the left to the classroom on the right.  Then look at a classroom of today (oh, and RHS!).  Look similar?

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There were some very profitable industries and companies that folded in the last ten years because they delivered old technology or failed to adapt to the times, like Kodak, Nokia, Blackberry, VHS video, Tower Records - the list goes on.   ROBLOX Studio is an incredibly powerful tool that teaches so many important skills that will be needed by future workers. 

Consider this; the term 'drone operator' had zero search queries via Google Search in February 2007.  Look at the graph below to see how popular that search term is today. ** 11 years ago, a 'drone operator' was not a career option for those students in Year 1 at that time.  Now, you can buy a drone and make money when you are still in school because the demand has been driven by technology that is getting better and cheaper.  Include drone programmers, builders and industries that manufacture parts amongst many other companies in the ecosystem to support the industry. 

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This is just one example of a new industry that doesn't need a university degree to make millionaires.  If you break down the skills required to create ROBLOX games in Studio, you can see direct correlations to the 21st Century skills needed for workers of the near future.

Programming - using Lua scripts, ROBLOX developers can embellish the games.  Simple code can be used to do things like change the weather or turn lights on and off.  Complex Lua scripts can take games to the next level.  Developers can transfer this mastery of Lua to other languages like Unity (games, HoloLens apps) or Java (Apps, Minecraft mods).  You can even use Python to programme robots.

AI - Artificial Intelligence enables objects in games to make decisions, like following paths.  AI is needed in things like driverless cars and robots, so ROBLOX developers who use AI in their games are learning a skillset very much required for current and future technologies.

Game Making - Making games is what developers do and it is how they make money.  Making games in ROBLOX is already a pursuit that you can do now, but it also sets you up to join companies like Xbox or EA Sports.  Just look at the roles in Meep City - Director and Programmer, Creative Director, Music Composer and Builders.  Throw in the graphic design that is needed for game thumbnails and it is an extensive list of in-demand skills.

Video and Audio Production - Many ROBLOX players and developers create videos of their exploits which are professionally produced.  Some create original music, artwork and effects, and these skills can be extended into the television or movie industries.

Teaching - Developers and players also create videos or other content that teaches other developers and players to perform new techniques and upskill.  Education is a massive economic segment, and the production of educational materials grows as schools and universities seek new content to deliver.

Innovation and Creativity - Well, this is evident in bucket loads.  From the players' characters, to the games made and the objects designed and built, players and developers alike are creating amazing digital artefacts.  I especially love the plugins that can help builders finish their worlds.

3D Modelling - CAD (Computer Aided Design) is needed throughout a growing list of industries, and as 3D printing gets more common and amazing (they print HOUSES now don't you know), more 3D designers will be needed.  ROBLOXIANS can build 3D objects and export them for printing as .obj files.

Finance - The game's ROBUX currency gives players and developers an insight into budgets and commerce.  Trading items for sale and purchase, and working with percentages are valuable skills for business owners and entrepreneurs.

Collaboration - Players often work together to complete tasks and play games.  They communicate via chat and form teams for increased success and fun!  You can even make games together using Team Create.

In 2017, my Year 8 Digital Technologies class created an ‘Obby’ (obstacle course) game using Roblox Studio. They firstly used a collaborative knowledge sharing process, inspired by Vygotsky’s theory of social constructivism and powered by Microsoft’s Excel Survey tool.  Plans with captions and screenshots were developed using OneNote Class Notebook’s inking functionality.

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Example of a game plan

Students had a set of parameters to cover, outlined in a checklist.  Instructional videos on each element they needed to add were delivered asynchronously via the LMS.  I would regularly do live demonstrations of new elements that students could add, and if a student wanted to add a bespoke element, I would work it out and provide access to all students.  The Lua code scripts were provided in an embedded Word document that was regularly updated.  Often the code need to be altered to work in each different game.  The results were outstanding and lots of fun for me to assess and for the students to evaluate.  The creativity of the students was manifested in the themes they chose for their games and the obstacles that needed to be bested.

Roblox corporation is dipping its toe into education via summer camps and online coding sites.  In the meantime, if you are interested in using Roblox Studio with your students, you can visit www.robloxedu.com and access my planning and other resources.

** Interest over time - Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. Likewise a score of 0 means the term was less than 1% as popular as the peak.

Image Credits

THE GILDED AGE, https://thegildedagentc.weebly.com/factories.html

The Art of Teaching, http://www.artofteachingscience.org/generation-science-standards-ideology-progressives/

Ms Budlong's English Class, https://budlongenglishclass.wordpress.com/

Roblox High School, www.roblox.com/games/9689581/RHS

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Matthew Jorgensen is a resident of the Gold Coast and is currently Assistant Director of eLearning at St Stephen’s College.  In 2016 he was the Microsoft Teacher Ambassador for Queensland and QSITE Emerging Leader.  He has a Master’s degree in Education and is currently a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and CoSpacesEdu Ambassador.  In 2017, he was the first teacher in Australia (and probably the world) to use Roblox Studio to deliver the Digital Technologies curriculum.  He has a long history of using game based learning in the classroom, including Kodu, Scratch, Project Sienna, Minecraft and Roblox.  Matthew runs the robloxedu.com website which has no formal relationship with Roblox.  You can connect with Matthew via:

 

Twitter                  @jorganiser

                            @ROBLOXedu
LinkedIn               https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewjorgensenaust/