pokemon go

Gotta Catch ‘Em All: Educators Explore How Pokémon GO Can Be Used to Foster Student Engagement

With school returning and class back in session, teachers are reeling trying to find new ways to keep students engaged, and activities that will keep lesson plans interactive and relevant.

As an effort to connect with students, some teachers are even bringing Pokémon GO into their classrooms.

Pokémon GO is a location-based augmented reality game developed by Niantic. The app was released for iOS and Android in July and has since taken off. In its first weeks, servers repeatedly crashed from too many people trying to access the game at once.

Teachers from all subjects are blogging about the game and how they plan to use it to teach different areas of study. One teacher provided ideas for using Pokémon GO for virtual reality images, mapping, digital storytelling, data literacy, podcasts, infographics, sketchnotes, and more.

One academic, Craig Smith, is arguing that Pokémon GO is actually doing more help than harm in classrooms. Smith, the Deputy Principal at the Aspect Hunter School for Children with Autism, specializes in autism research and found that the game improved the social skills and engagement of his students. Smith believes “the game [is] unique in that it encourage[s] children with and without learning difficulties to play outside and engage with other students,” according to the Independent.

“For many of the children I teach, it’s hard to engage in social activities—even going down to the shops can be socially overwhelming. But what we’re seeing with the Pokémon craze is the same students are making conversation and engaging in social activities through the game,” said Smith.

While some school districts are excited to work out how they will incorporate the game into their curriculum, others are worried about how Pokémon GO could affect the safety of their schools.

School officials for The Wichita district are concerned with who the PokéStops on their campuses will attract to the school. They “worry that the virtual landmarks, besides tempting students to play during or between classes, could cause security or traffic problems if members of the public try to access them during school,” according to The Wichita Eagle.

The security concern has the opportunity to be resolved through geo-fencing school districts to remove PokéStops within those areas.

However teachers and school officials choose to handle the Pokémon GO craze, it will be interesting to see how an augmented reality game can affect our educational system.

Hannah Flynn

Hannah Flynn

Hannah is a Boston-based writer who hails from Ohio. She has recently become interested in photography and loves taking portraits. You can normally find her curating her Instagram feed and eating all things carbs.