Watchworthy Wednesday: How Pokémon Go Promotes Learning Opportunities

In barely two weeks, the virtual reality game Pokémon Go has attracted millions of players. Now, educators are pondering whether the game can be used to promote learning. Three blogs — Aside, Discovery Education and EdTech — are nodding indeed.

“Harnessing student excitement of this game can easily be used to support all kinds of fun and pedagogically-sound lessons and activities,” writes Discovery Education’s Kathy Schrock. She offers a number of resources educators can use to create lessons.

Among her observations: “The journal component of the game automatically records the time and date of the events as they occur — whether it be collecting Pokeballs or capturing a Pokemon. Students can use the data to figure out the average number of events per day or to graph their allocation of items from a Pokestop. Using data they have collected and analyzing it will help students start to become familiar with the data literacy skills of data processing, data manipulation, data presentation, and data analysis.”

EdTech’s Meg Conlan points to three ways Pokémon Go can create meaningful learning opportunities: by “promoting data literacy skills,” “exploring the natural world” and “inspiring digital storytelling.”

And, the Aside blog offers “10 ways that Pokémon Go can support the skills of contemporary learning.” Among them:

Map Decoding — The only way to succeed in the game is by following a colorful map, which by definition necessitates a proficiency with direction, navigation, and geography. Much like the geocaching craze, Pokémon Go draws from the Google Maps API to turn everyday sites into Gyms and Stops.

Problem Solving — This Poké-distraction employs the best of gamification. It requires critical thinking, advanced planning, strategic puzzling, and dealing with uncertainty to keep all of the animated balls in the air.

STEM and Big Data — Educators have been wrestling with the world of Big Data for years. Here, the foundation resides in math and numbers; how much combat power does each creature have, how much candy and/or stardust is on hand, and how long until an incubation period ends?

Financial Literacy — Perhaps one of the most under-heralded benefits of the game is the tutelage in budgeting, saving, and allocation of resources. Players accumulate Poké Coins and consider micro-transactions, as they earmark incense, lures, and other commodities. The game is already hitting the FinTech world by storm.

For an in-depth look at Pokémon Go’s success, read last week’s DML Central blog by Barry Joseph.

Banner image credit: Roger Lew

Editor’s note: Watchworthy Wednesday posts highlight interesting DML resources that appear in this blog every Wednesday. Any tips for future posts are welcome. Please comment below or send email to mcruz@hri.uci.edu.