Pokémon GO as GED(r) Prep?

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By Guest Blogger: Brandon John

If you haven’t heard yet, you probably will very soon about a game called Pokémon Go. Maybe Pokémon is familiar to you from the animated series that started in the 1990’s. Maybe because you watched it yourself, or had to endure it with your children. Well, it has made a comeback in the form of an augmented reality game for iOS and Android devices. Although you may not have realized it you have probably seen people playing this game. It usually takes the form of someone walking along with their face planted in their smart phone – (I know you are thinking this is nothing new) but the smart phone app was just released in the U.S. on Thursday July 7, 2016 and has more users than Snap Chat, Tinder, and Instagram. Viral videos can be a positive force in connecting real world issues in the classrom, and now this game is a viral powerhouse. So how can GED students benefit from playing Pokémon Go?

Let’s start with the obvious. Walking around looking at your phone will inevitably lead to you doing one or all of the following:

  1. You will bump into other people. (Possibly people playing this game.)
  2. You will bump into trees.
  3. You will walk right through a mud puddle. (I know this from personal experience.)
  4. You will bump into small woodland creatures.

Those seem rather obvious, but what else can we learn from Pokémon Go? Let’s break this down into some categories.

Geography: Considering the app uses your location and displays your avatar walking around a replica of the real world, it helps you to learn direction and possible how to find your away around your surrounding area. Similar to a GPS in a car, Pokémon Go uses your phone’s geo-location via satellites to give people an opportunity to navigate a map using a technical interface. This topic can be used to launch map and geography lessons in i-Pathways!

While exploring your surroundings, you may learn about new places and things in your community.

HealthScreen Shot 2016-07-13 at 5.36.07 PM.pngHow about a video game that actually makes you move and walk!? While searching for the Pokémon you have to move about your environment. Some tasks require you to walk a minimum distance before you can achieve them. A lot of games on smart phones and tablets don’t require any movement except what your fingers can provide. Understanding health is a major component of i-Pathways Science Module Unit 2, Lesson 1!

Having played the game, I can attest to the fact that you don’t realize how much you actually walk while being distracted by the screen and the augmented reality world.

Possible setbacks: Be careful while playing the game especially while in a crowded and public place. The likelihood that you could hurt yourself by not paying attention to the real world is a possibility. Use caution and be aware of your surroundings.

Mathematics: The game does help you become familiar with units of measurement. Some tasks require you to walk a set distance in order to achieve. By doing this you will become familiar with units of distance and how to gauge them. After students complete a walk, have them work with measures of central tendency.

Advertising: There is a function in the game called a “Lure.” This feature does cost money, but results for small business owners have been very interesting! The “Lure” will create a point in the Pokémon Go app that will drive individuals using the app to your location. Imagine the possibilities for small businesses! Combine this with i-Pathways Consumer Educatoin and understanding advertising techniques.  

Budgeting and Economics: Like a lot of apps across the app stores Pokémon Go features “In App Purchases.” These games are usually free, but offer the user an opportunity to spend real money to get unique items or level up quicker. Be aware of how much money you are spending, if any, and tie this into lessons about budgeting and math.

Other topics to Discuss: The game uses the geo-location feature of your smart phone. This means that the game knows where you are while playing it. Now a lot of apps on smartphones use geo-location features to better serve you so don’t think Pokémon Go is unique. This is just something of which to mindful. The game also requires you to register an email address. Whenever an app or game asks you to use your email address there is always the possibility of possible data breach in the event the game provider is hacked.

Another risk to providing an email address is the game provider may share your email address with 3rd parties who will use it to send you advertisements and the like.

There are many learning possibilities with Pokémon Go. The more you play the game the more you may be able to develop learning strategies around it.

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