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Go learn with Pokemon Go!

By Kae Novak
July 14, 2016
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It's no surprise that educators are talking about how to use Pokemon Go, or a similar commercial augmented reality (AR) game, for learning.

For those who haven’t caught the bug yet, Pokemon Go is an AR game that uses GPS to know where you’re located. It alerts you when you’re near a Pokemon, which you capture by “tossing” a Pokeball at it using a flicking gesture on your device.

Capturing Pokemon is just the beginning. As you level up, you collect, battle and join a team. Trading, which is part of the Pokemon card game, will come soon.

Niantic Labs developed the AR and mapping in the game, drawing on their experience with Ingress. So as you look into Pokemon Go, you may also want to take a look at Ingress. Pokemon Go also marks real-world places — known in the game as Pokestops and gyms — some of which offer facts and information about a place or landmark.

For example, if you’re playing the game on a college campus, you might click on a Pokestop near the campus art museum and learn an interesting fact about a sculpture near the entrance. Google mapped the places within the game, and they're pretty extensive. 

educational uses

In a very short period of time, Pokemon Go has demonstrated the power of an AR game to get students — and everyone, really — out and learning in the real world. How can we capitalize on this phenomenon to create and use pervasive mobile games or quests for education?

Below are some resources and information culled by the members of ISTE’s Games and Simulations Network. If you'd like to contribute, go to the Google Doc to add your own resources and ideas.

Pokemon Go: What education should be
This article by Lori Gracey is a primer on the game. It offers a good overview of the pros and cons of the game as an educational resource. Scroll down to the heading “So What Does Pokemon Go Mean to education?” for specific classroom ideas.

10 Ways to Use Pokemon Go on Campus 
Kasandrea Sereno wrote this informative post describing how college students play Pokemon via Twitter. The post offers great ideas for club advisers, student affairs personnel and campus marketers. educators outside those areas will also find the examples useful.

14 Reasons Why Pokemon Go is the Future of Learning
This post by David Theriault offers lots of screenshots, media and discussion on mobile devices and augmented reality apps created by Ninantic Labs, such as Field Trip and Ingress. One of the best reasons he gives for using this app for learning: “Since students are really into their phone and really into their social media apps and mobile games, why not jujitsu their desires into learning opportunities.”

Pokemon Go for listening and language development
Alison King, a speech language pathologist, offers several ways you can use the app for language development.

August 2016: Pokemon Go
This post by Kathy Schrock offers suggestions for using Pokemon Go with games, books and other media. She offers fantastic ideas for using the app to create digital stories, mapping, infographics and more.

explore everything with Pokemon Go!
Craig Smith goes into detail about the pedagogy of using Pokemon Go and also links to an iTune course by Autism Spectrum Australia.

What is Pokemon Go? A Parent/educator’s Overview|
Lucas Gillispie offers this basic parent guide to Pokemon. educators may want to use this as an overview to share with parents who want to play and explore with their children.

A Parent’s Guide to Playing Pokemon Go With Your Kids
Beth Skwarecki suggests monitoring #PokeBlitz to help you identify birds, bugs, plants, etc. She also offers a lot of valuable advice for helping kids stay safe while playing the game.

everything Librarians Need To Know About Pokemon Go!|
This post gives a pretty detailed description of Pokemon Go and why it is a boon to library research.

Pokemon Go and Fire Departments: An Opportunity to engage?
This short post explains how organizations can use Pokemon Go, or any augmented reality app, for public education.

Pokemon Go players are finding real animals while searching for digital ones
This post by Sean Greene from the LA Times discusses how scientists and natural history buffs are embracing the chance to connect themobile game with biodiversity education.

Is ‘Pokemon Go’ Good for Science
This post on Motherboard explores whether Pokemon Go will get kids seriously interested in science.

Scientists’ New Research Tool: Pokemon Go
This post on the Takepart site also looks at the ramifications for boosting interest in science and nature.

The brilliant mechanics of Pokemon Go
This TechCrunch post explores the brilliant game design behind Pokemon Go.

Kae Novak is an instructional designer and student success coordinator for online learning at Front Range Community College in Colorado. Shechairs ISTE’s Games and Simulations Network, which explores learning in MMORPGs, virtual worlds and augmented reality simulations.

Watch a recording of “Pokemon: An introduction and resource,” a Google Hangout focused on the educational possibilities of Pokemon Go. Then join the conversation about Pokemon Go and other AR tools in the ISTE Games and Simulations Network.