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Gaming giant Roblox intends to bring K-12 education to the ‘metaverse’

The $73 billion gaming company Roblox is poised to position itself as a leader in bringing classroom education into the “metaverse” — the evolving virtual world currently enthralling Silicon Valley.

Education Week reported Monday that the San Mateo-based company aims to reach 100 million students worldwide by the end of the decade and eventually host virtual classrooms in place of Zoom or other platforms. The company’s head of education, Rebecca Kantar, also is eyeing the platform as a host for virtual reading lessons or experiences that allow students from across the globe to collaborate in real time on science experiments.

Earlier this month, Education Week reported, Roblox announced a $10 million Roblox Community Fund to support the creation of online learning experiences that use its platform. The company seeks to expand the use of its platform for computer-science education, as well as other curricular activities.

Roblox emerged in 2006 as a free gaming platform that allowed users to create their own avatars, program their own games and play games created by other users. According to Education Week, more than 47 million people use the platform every day, nearly half of whom are younger than 13. Some of the platform’s games are educational and can be tied to academic lessons. Roblox is frequently used to teach children beginner coding skills, but its use in the K-12 education sector accounts for only a small part of its popularity.

A July New York Times article featured Roblox as possibly “the nearest and most expansive vision of the metaverse.” The New York Times reported on the “darker side” of the Roblox metaverse, which includes games involving strip clubs, Nazi re-enactments and other adult and problematic activities. The company said it does not condone these games.