This summer, Josh and I were at ISTE in Denver, talking about ways in which to use augmented reality apps like Ingress in support of education. We didn’t know it at the time, but our workshop was 4 days before the release of Pokémon Go – a game we mentioned and talked about, but only in explaining that it was about to hit America and hit it hard.
In December, Josh and I were back together, this time at TIES in Minneapolis, again running a workshop on using apps like Goosechase and Ingress, but also talking about Pokémon Go. We also gave an hour-long talk at TIES, just on Pokémon Go and education.
One interesting aspect that is often overlooked it the role the game can plan in inspiring students to get outside, when the otherwise wouldn’t. When Josh and I were at ISTE, we talked about how game like Ingress can provide this function for kids who have a connection to the game, but wow – holy cow – there are a whole lot of kids and even adults who make a whole different kind of connection to Pokémon Go. And that’s a connection that can be advantageous, especially when it comes to students who have visual impairments, are on the autism spectrum, or have other reasons to not want to be out in public.
My sister and I spent time with my friend Clif today, playing Pokémon Go in and around Portland. Clif is an avid Pokémon Go player – and he happens to be blind, having lost his sight over the last decade or so. Clif sees the game as a reason to go out, and a reason to practice those mobility skills he learned in recent years but might not otherwise be practicing. If he wants a particular Pokémon and they are nesting in a certain area or park, he needs to work on ways to get there and play the game there – that’s a lot for someone who has lost their sight.
And for my sister, who is a mobility instructor for Bay Area school district, it’s a motivator for some of her students. No longer are they facing mobility tasks and some checklists – now, they’re developing plans on where they want to go to play Pokémon Go, what areas have the most or best pokestops, and how to plans routes to get there. All of that, of course, while also learning and practicing their much needed mobility skills in the same exact safe, controlled manner.
It might seem like a game. It might seem like a distraction. It is, of course, about how you use it as a tool in support of your learning objectives.