As schools get underway and empty hallways become filled with teenagers with teenager conversations, I want to take a moment to address a topic that was well … pretty big this summer. That topic is Augmented Reality and the reason for the excitement over it is an app called Pokemon Go.
I'm not going to pretend to be an expert in the field of Pokemon or Pokemon Go. Being a child of the 80's (#PowerRangersIsAKnockoffOfVoltron), I was never into the series. I couldn't tell you what the difference is between a Pikachu and a Jigglypuff. I can't tell you what they each represent. I can't even tell you what you do when you put them in the same room and throw a Pokeball in the air (or whatever you are supposed to do with it).
What I can tell you is that recently the Pokemon generation rose up and did so in mass numbers all in the good name of entertainment and I think it's one of the best things that could happen to students this side of the Ice Bucket Challenge.
Does Pokemon Go Have Educational Value?
One could argue that just about anything and everything has educational value. As I sit here, I find myself slouching in my office chair. Anyone can come in here and give me a lesson on posture and call it educational. Pokemon, in essence, has a ton of educational value. We can discuss the fact that students must know how to navigate through their technology to use the game. We can discuss how in order to progress through the game, you need to learn how to navigate through a map. We can even discuss the athleticism needed when a Pokemon chaser climbs over a neighbors fence to capture their favorite critters on private property. Does it have educational value? Of course, it does.
Let's take a look at the backend of the game. In order for this game to exist, somebody had to create a way to overlay millions of little-augmented game pieces across the planet. How did this happen? What apps are in play? How is your position being triangulated constantly? How much battery is this using up on your phone? Is the app using Google, Microsoft, or Apple API's to capture gameplay? All of these questions make for very authentic learning situations that provide hours of teachable moments.
Would We Rather Our Students Be Inside?
I remember a few years ago, I tried playing a Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game called Star Wars Galaxies. The game, obviously set in a Galaxy Far Far Away allowed you to create an avatar and set it inside the Star Wars extended universe. Very similar to Pokemon Go, you had to walk around a virtual world, pick up items, go on quests and interact with the world. The only difference between these two games is that with Star Wars, you are sitting on the couch for hours and in Pokemon Go you are on your own in the open air experiencing something called exercise.
What Do You Think?
What are your thoughts on this subject? Where do you fall on the Pokemon Go debate? Please share your thoughts below in our comments section.