What's this Pokemon Go thing?If you haven't at least heard about Pokemon Go, you belong to a really very tiny group of possibly not-that-young and not-that-cool people. Allow me to get you out of there. Pokemon Go is an AR game that uses two big things you're probably familiar with if you're into the educational system and digital learning: gamification and augmented reality. Basically, the users play a game of catching as many pokemons — AR cute little monsters — as possible. All the frenzy surrounding Pokemon Go is not really about catching pokemons though. The "Go" part of the game is what made it viral. In order to catch any pokemon, players need to move. Walk. Go outside. Step on someone else's feet. Inevitably meet other players. Which means actual, physical interaction. Which is totally different than being glued to a chair, in front of a desktop or laptop screen, like any other computer game requires. And kids of all ages love it. At least for now. (Kids can be between 1 and 100 years old, mind you.) In just a few weeks since it all started, the number of Pokemon Go daily active users has probably surpassed that of Twitter (based on an earlier report from Similar Web). Also, the time spent on the app was higher than that on SnapChat, Instagram and WhatsApp. These are really huge numbers!
Pokemon Go and engagement ratesOf course, meeting strangers and/or not paying attention to the environment can lead to bad situations and more serious accidents than stepping on someone else's feet. But on the other hand, Pokemon Go has managed to do what many other apps, games — and even teachers — struggle to do on a daily basis: attract huge numbers of players/users/students and keep them engaged. Just imagine your classroom with all the students so focused on learning your subject matter that they are constantly asking questions and looking for new knowledge, and you can't stop them from doing that even if you'd try! That's utopian, I know. Snap out of it.
Any use of Pokemon Go in the classroom?It might seem odd to include Pokemon Go in any class activity, but if you already use AR apps, or any gamification tool, why not keep an eye on it and maybe give it a chance? First, download the app and catch some pokemons. It's the only way to understand how it works and why everyone's so into it. Then, think about ways you could use it in your class. If you get one good idea, it might be worth trying it:
- If you're a biology teacher, you can ask your students to send you pictures with all the plants and flowers and trees — with the corresponding names — while they hunt pokemons.
- If you're a physics teachers, you can help them learn the metric system — if they want their egg to hatch, they need to walk at least 2 kilometers; what does that mean in miles?
Will Pokemon Go change how we learn?On a scale between a flat out NO and a definitely YES, with a MAYBE right in the middle, I think the answer lies somewhere between the MAYBE and the flat out NO. It's just too soon to know. Pedagogy is something too complex to be revolutionized by an app like Pokemon Go. There are no studies and no relevant statistical data yet for making such forecasts. But if more and more teachers figure out new ways to use it in their instructions — which will lead to better student learning — things might change. Until then, let people catch 'em all! Like this post? Hit the social sharing buttons below!
Image credit (Pikachu): Wikia.