Monday, May 9, 2011

ROBLOX As A Homeschool Teaching Resource?!?!

As the saying goes....IF YOU CAN'T BEAT THEM, JOIN THEM!

Since my homeschooling adventure began about 6 months ago, I have been researching and learning a lot of the ins-and-outs of how my child really learns...what he loves, what he likes ok, what he will tolerate because he trusts me that its important, and what he downright refuses to do.  Mostly, I have learned that he is most cooperative and attentive when "doing school" doesn't feel or look anything like school.

A few months ago, my nephew introduced my son to a free online gaming site called ROBLOX. I briefly checked it out, determined it was safe enough, and helped him get an account set up.

Parents can set up a parent account too and link it to their kid's account to set the chat to safe mode or free chat, and to allow/disallow private messages.There is also a dashboard that shows if they have had warnings from the moderators, how much money they have spent, the last ten things they bought and a few other things.

It only took a few days until he was completely obsessed with this site. He was totally in love with this thing called ROBLOX, and as it is with anything that he is interested in- it became the only thing he wanted to do when we weren't "doing school". He even gave up his 3 month long obsession of daily Lego building and everything to do with Lego Star Wars. That was a big deal!

I eventually needed to install an internet timer to regulate his time on the computer!

So, I began to wonder..what exactly is this thing called ROBLOX that has captured his interest. Is it really educational like they claim or is just a mindless game???

The Mom and the researcher in me got busy trying to find out more about it. ROBLOX claims to be educational, but I still couldn't see the point - yet.

But gradually I began to notice.....

My child...
who was socially awkward and had made very few friends during his time in public school....
who had spent the last two years of his career at public school learning that it was ok for kids to pick on other kids as long as you weren't the first one to get caught...
who was realizing that the law of the "jungle" in 5th Grade was to bully or get bullied....
who hates to talk on the phone...
explained to me how important it was to him that he was able to chat with other kids, and how it made up for the fact that he didn't get to talk to kids at school anymore. He showed me that he had already made some friends on there (some of the were other homeschoolers). He told me about how they were showing him the ropes and being nice to him. He was also talking on the phone to his cousin who lives an hour while playing Roblox together.

Score points for ROBLOX - Socialization

My child that had always hated (insert refused) to have much of anything to do with typing, spelling, and/or writing was suddenly typing messages, writing summaries for groups that he made up, and asking me to spell words for him over and over throughout the day. I was seeing how the Unschooling philosophy of how a child will learn what they need to know when they need to know it in action right in front of me.

Score points for ROBLOX- Spelling, Typing, and Language Arts

On Roblox they also have two types of virtual currency and are able to exchange one for the other according to a determined exchange rate. The kids are able to buy items for their characters, and even sell certain in the marketplace. The system takes a percent of the sales price.

Score points for Roblox- Math

He also NEEDED to know how to download templates to make his own designs for clothing for his virtual character...think of it as paper dolls for the computer. So now he was asking me to show him how to do this.
First, I showed him how to do it with MS paint, and he started designing away. I showed him how to save files where he could find them again later to upload to the website. Next, he NEEDS to make better "clothes".  I knew that could be done with Photoshop. (I dabble in Graphic Arts, but I am still trying to figure out and remember where to find all the tools on that Photoshop. So I quickly learn how to do certain things in Photoshop so I can teach him.)

He showed me games that other kids had built, and told me about how he wanted to build a really cool game that would make it to the first page. He said that he needed to learn how to make scripts...and I was like "What?"... I had to look that up.
Scripts... Roblox uses a programming language called Lua and users can write their own programs to add special things to the games. I had heard of scripts before, but I didn't really know anything about them. that one was over my head. You can make games without knowing how to script, but he insists that we need to learn to do this so we can make some cool games. We're still working on that may be a while.

Score points for Roblox- Computer Technology, Art

Now that he knew how to do all this stuff himself, he retreated into his inner world again busy, busy, busy with everything Roblox... and I could feel us getting I began having mixed feelings about this again.
That's when I made my own Roblox account- so I could enter his world. Although it would be UNCOOL to for his new friends to know, he thought it was the greatest thing that I was entering his world!  We build together, chat together, and learn together.
He even built a virtual school so my character can teach his character!

Score for Roblox- A place where this Mom (who isn't very physically able) can be a hero and play with her son.

I have even noticed more maturity because of this obession with ROBLOX. When I first set the time limit, he didn't feel that it was fair enough. Instead of throwing a fit and having a long drawn out meltdown, he went to his room and secretly typed me a very logical and mature letter explaining all the reasons why I should consider giving him more time. I was IMPRESSED!

Having to earn computer time has also been a great incentive to get cooperation in doing his other lessons, doing housework, brushing his teeth, etc, etc, etc

Score points for Roblox- Time Management, Cooperation, Life Skills

I'm still figuring out my homeschool philosophy and obviously, this is not the only thing we have done for homeschool....BUT....I'm already thinking of ways to use ROBLOX as a teaching tool for the next school year...that is...unless he has moved on to a new obsession. :)


"ROBLOX is an online virtual playground and workshop — where kids of all ages can safely interact, create, have fun, and learn. It's unique in that practically everything in this infinite playground is designed and constructed by individual members of the ROBLOX community.

Each player starts by choosing an avatar and giving it an identity. They can then explore ROBLOX — interacting with others by chatting, playing games, or collaborating on creative projects.

Each player is also given their own piece of undeveloped real estate along with a virtual toolbox with which to design and build anything desired — be it a navigable skyscraper, a working helicopter, a giant pinball machine, a multiplayer "Capture the Flag" game or some other, yet-to-be-dreamed-up object or activity.

By participating and by building cool stuff, ROBLOX members can earn specialty badges as well as ROBLOX dollars ("ROBUX"). In turn, they can shop the online catalog to purchase avatar clothing and accessories as well as premium building materials, interactive components, and working mechanisms."

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