By now, almost everyone knows that Roblox is an online gaming platform where users can create, share and play games virtually. The platform even allows users to use a proprietary programming language called Lua to create games or customise existing ones. Roblox also has an active community where players can interact with each other, create groups and join multiplayer games. The resource is free, but virtual items can be purchased with real money to customise the experience.
Today, Roblox has become a very popular platform among children and teenagers, which has led many teachers to use its format, platform, community and narratives in the classroom.
The gamified classroom experience ROBLOXing draws on the narrative of one of the platform’s video games, in which players take on the role of a baby dinosaur who must pass a series of tests in order to ensure its survival until it becomes an ‘Elder dinosaur’, at which point it will have to face a final decisive battle. In the event that the student passes this last test successfully, he will be revived, which means that he will have won the game and passed the game.
ROBLOXing is designed for a group of 2nd year primary school students with the aim of motivating them to want to actively participate in the subject of Science, which is taught in English. Throughout the experience, which covers the first term of the course, the students (or, rather, their avatars) have to overcome four main levels, each consisting of two missions, which are nothing more than tasks and exercises from the area programme.
Specifically, the levels to overcome are:
Passing each of these levels means that your avatar gains experience, matures and therefore progresses. The message this sends to the students is that, like their avatars, they too are acquiring knowledge and overcoming the objectives of the subject.
In order to introduce the narrative to the students, a giant poster with the introduction is placed in the classroom to, on the one hand, attract their attention and, on the other hand, to start a corner in the classroom that grows as the game progresses, thus making the experience visible to the younger ones.
As shown in the image, the contents addressed throughout the experience are mainly from the area of natural sciences and English L2 linguistics, in a joint manner, i.e. CLIL.
When students manage to pass the first mission, they get 5 points and advance to the next one, which, once successfully completed, will earn them a star. Both points and stars can be accumulated and can be exchanged for physical prizes related to Roblox, such as bracelets, pins, colouring-in of their favourite characters…
By completing the mission proposed in the new level, students can develop physical elements in their avatars, such as teeth, tails, claws… Thanks to these elements, they can receive help in the surprise battles that arise during the experience and continue advancing or keep the gifts they have obtained so far.
All this information will be recorded in a personal card that students will receive at the beginning of the experience and that will be completed by the student with the help of the teacher as he/she acquires points and resources. Similarly, the physical elements to be added to their avatar will be recorded in an album that will allow them to see their progression in a very visual way.
Many of the tests will have to be solved by the student alone, although there will also be many others that will have to be tackled in pairs or even collaboratively by teams. During the experience, the teacher can create unexpected moments in the story by proposing special tests that jeopardise the gifts and points earned.
When all the students have passed all the levels, they will face a final battle which, if successful, will make them revive their character and even come back to life with a new identity, indicating that the game has come to an end.
Using students’ interests in class is interesting for several reasons. Firstly, it helps to motivate students to learn, as they feel more involved and engaged with the material when it is related to their interests. Secondly, it allows the teacher to personalise learning for each student, which increases the effectiveness of teaching. In addition, this can help students make connections between the material and their life outside of school.
Other ideas for working on Roblox storytelling in language classes with children:
- Create stories in Roblox: Use the Roblox game as a tool to develop creative writing skills in L2. For example, students can create their own stories within the game and share them with their peers to practice reading and writing in a fun environment.
- Role-play in Roblox: Students can take on the role of characters in a story within Roblox and practice oral production while interacting with their peers in role-play.
- Create a collaborative story: Students can work in teams to create a story in Roblox, allowing them to practice effective communication in a second language while working on a common project.
- Vocabulary challenges: Use Roblox as a tool to challenge students to learn new vocabulary in a second language. Students can complete in-game quests and challenges to practice lexis.
- Debate on topics related to the game: Use the narrative and themes present in Roblox to initiate discussions and debates in class. Students can practice their speaking and writing skills in a second language while sharing their opinions and views.
- Creating tutorials: students can create tutorials in Roblox to teach other students how to play the game, practising writing and speaking in a second language.
In short, Roblox offers a variety of opportunities for children to practice their second language while having fun. Teachers can use storytelling and game play to develop writing, speaking, listening and teamwork skills in a playful learning environment.