Most adults over 40 can admit that their tech skills are no match for today’s tablet-wielding toddlers. The digital fluency of Gen Z and Gen Alpha was already unprecedented, and then months of remote learning deepened their comfort with pivoting from physical to digital spheres. Today’s kids are the people who will push virtual reality to the limits of our imagination. From Minecraft to the Roblox metaverse, they’re already leading the charge.
If you’re feeling lost in a sea of new terminology, fear not. In this article, we’ll provide an educator-friendly overview of the metaverse, virtual reality, and how it applies to your job as a school professional.
We’ll also cover what the Roblox metaverse is, why kids love it, and how you can cultivate the skills it encourages in your own classroom with technology designed by other educators. Burning questions we’ll answer include:
- How did a block-based game get so popular in an age of hyper realistic CGI?
- Why do kids love Roblox?
- What are the Roblox metaverse safety features?
- When will school-specific tech similar to Roblox launch?
- How can I incorporate this into the classroom
Keep reading, the party’s just getting started.
Extended Reality, a Primer
To understand the metaverse, you also need a basic understanding of extended reality (XR), an umbrella term encompassing:
- Augmented reality
- Mixed reality
- Virtual reality
In augmented reality (AR), digital content is superimposed onto the physical world. For example, using an app that allows you to hold up your phone and visualize what a chair would look like in your living room. You can also access augmented reality for kids through a variety of devices, including see-through head-mounted displays and tablets.
In mixed reality (MR), digital content is merged with the physical world. For example, one student might use a device to embed a virtual puppy into their physical environment. The virtual puppy would be able to jump up on a physical chair and run around a person standing in the room. MR content can be accessed with see-through, head-mounted displays.
In virtual reality (VR), digital content and stimuli completely replace the physical world. By donning a head-mounted display, students can travel from their classroom rug to a completely new (and interactive!) environment.
VR is most commonly linked to the metaverse, but the truth is that there is a wide range of methods for accessing this new digital dimension (from your cell phone to a VR tablet).
The Metaverse, a Primer
So, what exactly is the metaverse?
At its most basic, the metaverse is a collection of 3D virtual worlds. It’s commonly referred to as the next iteration of the internet, since the vision is that it will function as one vast web of information and experience, rather than disjointed clusters.
The question of who will build the platform that hosts this interconnected world is still up in the air. However, many companies are vying for a spot. In 2021, Facebook rebranded as Meta and in January 2022 Microsoft bought Activision for 68.7 billion.
In the meantime, many companies have launched their own metaverses where people—especially children—play, socialize, and create. The Roblox metaverse is leading the pack.
What is the Roblox Metaverse?
A visit to Roblox.com introduces a bare-bones site that looks like it would have done well during the golden age of Webkinz and Club Penguin. Not 2022. Yet the platform received 33 million visits to a virtual Lil Nas concert in 2020 and was valued at $36 billion in 2021.
Roblox has an insanely large user base; Active Player estimates that the platform saw over 200 million players in April of 2022. Roblox reports that they now see around 50 million daily active users.
Despite what their graphics suggest, Roblox got ahead of the curve through their:
- Social platform
- Creation engine
- Customizable avatars
The bottomline is that there is something for everyone on the Roblox metaverse. The platform goes beyond the limits of many video games to create a space where players can interact (for free).
Why do Kids Like the Roblox Metaverse?
Roblox is not a single game, but rather a platform home to millions of games made by users and developers. This means that most kids can find a game they like on the site, whether that’s:
- Adopting virtual pets
- Playing “the floor is lava”
- Hanging out and socializing in a virtual city
Users can also access the game on a wide variety of devices and systems, from phones, to tablets, to their older sibling’s Xbox.
In short, the Roblox metaverse offers extreme optionality
Problems with the Roblox Metaverse
As the metaverse on Roblox draws a growing number of players, it also draws criticism. One concern is that—since a huge portion of Roblox metaverse games are user-created—the company is profiting off of children’s unpaid labor. Many parents also think the platform is unsafe.
Webwise points out that Roblox is listed for players 12+ in both Android and iOS app stores. Parental Guidance is also advised in the app description. Common Sense Media recommends Roblox for ages 13 and up. Wondering why? Below, we’ll cover common concerns tied to the Roblox metaverse.
It’s Not Kid-Proof: Safety
Roblox is a social game that allows users to add friends and chat with them. While this is a convenient way for a young group of friends to play together online, it also means that predatory behavior is possible. The platform’s size makes fully accurate moderation impossible. Incidents happen, even leading to some court cases.
There are safety controls to mediate this risk. They include placing age restrictions on some Roblox games and allowing parents to restrict their child’s chat feature to “no one.”
However, bypassing these features isn’t rocket science, and today’s tech-savvy tweens are up for the challenge.
It’s Not Kid-Proof: Spending
Beyond socializing, another big part of Roblox metaverse culture is customizing avatars and digital landscapes, as well as buying and selling digital goods. To do this, players can purchase “Robux” (Roblox’s digital currency) with actual money.
In September of 2020, mobile players spent a total of $94 million in the app. That number is only part of the picture, since it doesn’t include purchases made on other devices, or the recent uptick in users.
While it’s possible to play Roblox without spending a dime, that requires willpower children don’t have. In-app marketing is tricky for younger audiences to navigate. That’s why many educators and parents prefer prepaid platforms that remove this option altogether.
An Educator-Friendly Option: Kai XR
The above concerns are enough to make many educators and parents swap the Roblox metaverse for school-friendly alternatives that teach developer skills and move students from a consumer to creator mindset.
Fortunately, the Roblox metaverse is not the only makerspace out there for young learners.
At Kai XR, we launched our very own Makerspace—our most highly-requested feature—in July of 2022. It's called Kai XR Create and you can check it out here. We also deliver high-quality virtual experiences curated for classrooms of all shapes and sizes.
All of our offerings are fully educator-approved and free from:
- Chat features
- In-app purchases
- Inappropriate content
This means that you can eliminate content unsuitable for kids and a constant influx of branding, as well as reduce bullying by swapping online conversations for in-person classroom discussions.
Sound enticing? We’ll cover our offerings in-depth below. But first, let’s touch on why kids are crucial to the construction of the metaverse.
Why Kids will Blaze the Trail to the Metaverse
While metaverse companies have been making moves for years, virtual reality and the potential for a fully-realized metaverse have only just begun to gain traction.
Metaverse job listings have grown exponentially since 2019. In April 2019, job site Adzuna had 1 listing that mentioned the word “metaverse.” In February 2022, that number rose to 3,339. This is just the beginning of the metaverse’s impending rise to job market ubiquity.
In the early 2000s, typing and computer classes were essential for giving students an edge in the job market. Today, those skills are as basic as writing. XR and developer skills have eclipsed them as the new must-have skills on the block.
Career and Technical Training
30% of the labor force is set to be made up of Gen Zers by 2030. This number, combined with Gen Z’s incredible technological edge—means that they will be leading the charge to the metaverse alongside millennials.
As an educator, you can prepare the way by delivering high-quality, tech-based career and technical training (CTE) to your classes. CTE is already an important part of any comprehensive education program, but incorporating tech-first CTE is more important than ever.
Introducing a metaverse-focused curriculum could look like:
- Teaching children how to use XR
- Teaching children about the metaverse and its potential
- Teaching students about metaverse and XR careers (from design to sales)
- Teaching students how to create metaverse content
These lessons can include hands-on and passive modules, leaving lots of room for customization.
However, our absolute favorite way to deliver these crucial CTE lessons is through our 360º virtual field trips and makerspace. Below, we’ll cover exactly how educators can use these tools to prepare children for the continuing tech explosion.
CTE in the Makerspace
We’re over the moon about the first version of our Makerspace. This feature of our site allows kids to unleash their imaginations on a 3D, digital space. Depending on what device children use to access the Makerspace, the experience can be completely immersive. Rather than simply watching a world come to life on a portable screen, students can dive into the world as they craft it around them.
But wait, what does this have to do with CTE? A lot!
Whether your students become architects, construction workers, video game designers, or biologists, familiarity with 3D design tools will be invaluable. These skills can translate to:
- Understanding and implementing blueprints
- Reading imaging technology
- Working with industry-standard animation software
- Using CAD software to create blueprints
These skills are also relevant to students who pursue careers fully unrelated to design and the metaverse. Spatial intelligence is key for daily functioning, and important for decision-making. It’s also a fully transferable skill.
For example, a child who becomes an author in adulthood can draw on foundational design experiences to map their novel’s world and effectively convey this map to audiences.
Roblox Metaverse vs. Makerspace
Above all, students can have fun in the Makerspace. There is a certain magic that comes from hands-on learning. This joy can easily get lost in the Information Age, a time when children are targeted as consumers rather than creators. For this reason, providing clear pathways to creating is vital.
Students who are already hooked on Minecraft and Roblox should have no trouble applying that interest to our Makerspace. One of the draws of the Roblox metaverse is customization (from game play to design). We’ve worked hard to implement that standard in our Makerspace.
On this platform, students can customize their own worlds in one of six environments:
In all three of these environments, students can drag and drop items from a library of nature and block assets. They can then move these items along a grid, resize them, rotate them, color them, and fully customize their finished product. For example, students can create a camping scene from pre-designed assets or use the blocks to imagine their own structure.
The possibilities are as wide as students’ imaginations, and pair well with all sorts of lessons.
Kids will love the extreme customization the platform offers, and educators and parents will be happy to foster these critical development skills without any safety or spending concerns.
CTE with Virtual Field Trips
At Kai XR, we believe that extended reality presents opportunities for connection, global perspective, and intercultural understanding like never before. Teaching students about the devastating effects of the palm oil industry is great, but transporting these students to Malaysia to hear from the people the deforestation affects is even more powerful.
Beyond the potential of the metaverse for creating a digital world open to everyone, we see its potential to connect us to all parts of the physical world, despite logistical and financial limitations.
Not only can students travel to distant countries, ocean depths, and even outer space, but they can also meet trailblazers in industries ranging from professional sports to genetics research.
It’s one thing to know a career path exists, but it’s another to hear someone you look up to talking about that career path.
At Kai XR, inclusion is a priority, not an afterthought. That’s why our experiences showcase a wide variety of professionals. We’ll highlight a few below!
Kobe Bryant’s 20-season basketball career is the stuff of legend. Our library is home to a piece of this legend: footage from his final game. The experience starts with Bryant discussing what ran through his head before he stepped onto the court for his last professional game. Whether or not your students are sports fanatics, they’ll be hooked.
This field trip is a great way to generate discussion about:
- Working towards career goals
- Leaving a legacy behind
- Persevering through challenges
Beyond generating discussion on CTE topics, this experience is also a great time to debrief on social emotional learning topics. Specifically, processing endings.
American-Indian singer and Youtuber Vidya Vox has amassed over 7 million subscribers.
In this experience, she traces her cultural identity and explores how her heritage influences her music (and therefore, her career success). Whether or not students are familiar with her music, they will gain critical insight into how family and heritage can shape career trajectory.
Subin Yang has been drawing since childhood. In high school, this hobby became her main focus, leading her to attend art school and pursue a career as a freelance illustrator in major cities like Seoul, New York, and Portland.
In this experience, Yang shares her tips for:
- Finding community as an artist
- Starting out as a freelancer
- Trying things outside of your comfort zone
This experience is a great launching point for teaching students about how to build a career out of their hobby. It’s also a great way to introduce a lesson on all the different careers out there. Many students only know a fraction of what jobs are available to them, so providing them with practical information is important.
Tiera Fletcher is a Boeing aerospace engineer working on the Space Launch Systems that will eventually send astronauts to Mars. Her interest in math and science started young, and she followed this passion to become a literal rocket scientist!
She’s also an author and motivational speaker, meaning that this experience is sure to get even your most math-averse students interested in STEM and generate discussion about what opportunities are available there.
Roblox Metaverse vs. Virtual Field Trips
Are you thinking that CTE is great and all, but wondering how it can possibly compete with the jam-packed Roblox metaverse? We hear you and we have an answer: extreme optionality.
So much of the school day consists of students completing tasks they have no say in choosing. When the chance does come to customize their learning, they’ll take it and run.
Because our virtual library is packed with educational VR field trips of all shapes and sizes, educators can rest assured that each of their students will find something that is:
This means there is room to let your students choose their own adventure.
Roblox or Not, the Metaverse is the Future
Make the move from Roblox metaverse to kid-friendly VR education hub today!
Also check out:
- Finding Meaning in the Metaverse Through the Classroom
- Virtual Reality for Teaching: An Educator’s Best Friend
- Take Your Classroom 360º with These 10 Virtual Field Trips