Getting Real with Pokemon Go


Pokemon Go has become a huge sensation in the mobile gaming world since July 2016. You can download the Go app onto your phone, and then proceed to stroll while engaging with virtual objects that the game gives you along your journey. You get a set of Pokemon (creatures with specific types and abilities) as well as potions, balls you throw, and many other items. That is me above having just taken over a "gym" with my Jolteon. The virtual gym is physically connected to a gazebo next to a lake. It didn't last long, though, before someone in a jeep stopped near the gym, defeated my Pokemon, and sped off to conquer the next gym. Ouch! Well, I controlled it for 2 minutes. While we can say many good and bad things about Pokemon Go, perhaps the most important aspect of the game is that it is integrated into experiencing the real world. You go out, explore, look at things that are not only on computer screens. This game is a harbinger of things to come in education even though the technology for augmented reality and GPS tracking has been with us for some time. Many Pokestops (designated physical objects, often public art or signs) were designated in a prior Nintendo game called Ingress, and carried forward into Go.  A Pokestop may be a bronze statue in a garden. Imagine the possibilities: being at the statue (because of Go) but then being able to learn many things from it: chemistry (oxidization and the nature of bronze), art (who made it), craft (how it was made), math (how it could be modeled). We've been working on an app for about 2 months that does this using bluetooth beacons so that connections to objects can be made indoors. Outdoors we can use GPS, similar to Pokemon Go. Why is our learning rooted in stuffy rooms with flat boards? We can learn the basics there, but why is learning relegated to indoor conversations beyond kindergarten? In kindergarten and in early grades, we actually did go outside and learn.  For some reason, we stopped doing this. We have a long way to go. Smell the Poke roses.