I’m sure that everyone’s heard of the latest craze to hit technology – Pokemon GO. If you haven’t, it’s a game that uses GPS and augmented reality to allow players to explore the world around them and capture Pokemon. So what is the goal of the game for those not in the know? Simple.Become a trainer who walks around collecting Pokemon, leveling them up, and battling for control of the gyms in whatever location the player may be. Niantic, the company who made the game, has already said the game is at about 10% of what they want it to be, and more additions are said to be in the works. One of the more recent announcements was the ability to trade Pokemon with other players. The gyms and PokeStops locations for the game were taken from another game by the company, Ingress. As with all new technology, there are positive and negative aspects to it. And of course, there will be players that abuse it, or simply lack common sense.
For those of you who grew up around the time Pokemon first came out, it’s like a dream come true. Instead of playing on the trusty ol’ Gameboy, you’re now out there with your cellphone living your childhood dream. The game has also drawn many new players, including younger children. These newer players have grown up with the latest variations of the TV show and the video games. Some of these players are quite young.
News stories have been rampant over the past few weeks, both positive and negative. Positive stories talk of players getting out and getting together in their community. These players are getting more exercise, meeting new people, and learning about the area that surrounds them. Negative stories have included players lacking common sense and causing accidents while driving, or causing injury to themselves by not paying attention to their surroundings.
Myself, I started playing the game on July 9th. I was on vacation with my family, so I played when I could. I was in Pigeon Forge, Tennesee at the time so there were plenty of options for PokeStops and Gyms. It was easiest to play in Dollywood because of the amount of stops and gyms. It certainly wasn’t my first visit to the park, so when I had downtime I
would make laps around to hit up the stops and gyms. It was a good way to stock up on items for sure. And for those wondering, I chose to join Team Instinct once I was able to do so.
One of the questions I hear from educators is this: How can the game be used in the classroom? By using the game in the classroom, I mean the game itself, not ideas or lessons based on the game.
This is a really tricky question to answer, as it will depend on a few things:
· Cellular service around the school
· Amount of PokeStops and Gyms in the nearby area
Areas that are rural often have large spots where cellular service is not available, or only available with a certain provider. Pokemon Go requires cellular service in order to connect to GPS satellites. The game requires the use of GPS to determine the player’s real world location at all times. Rural areas also take a hit when it comes to PokeStops and Gyms. These areas often have very few, or even nothing, located nearby. Players in these areas find themselves driving to nearby locations where play is better.
Even if your area has a decent amount of PokeStops and Gyms, you’ll still want to check and see if there are any close by to the school, or within an area that students could go to on a walking field trip. My hometown, for example, has a cemetery by the school that has a gym and a PokeStop. Other schools in the same district are in areas that have no cellular service, or nothing nearby that amounts to a PokeStop or Gym. Since the game does encourage walking about, download the game and see if any of the areas around you are stops or gyms. Gyms will either be colored red, blue, or yellow and have a Pokemon on top of them. PokeStops are blue circular signs.
In the image above, you see PokeStops are in a few different forms. Purple ones mean that you’ve collected supplies in the last 5 minutes from them. Blue means you haven’t. Square shaped ones are too far away to get, and circular ones are in range to get. A gym is highlighted in yellow in the same picture.
If you find that both of the above items fall in your favor, then you’re set to find ways to use it in the classroom. If not, you’re going to be out of luck, unfortunately. The game does not fall in favor of rural areas.
Doing a quick Google search will bring up ideas for lessons or ways to use it the game in the classroom, but it fails to mention that students will need devices to access the game. They’ll need a device with data on it, which means they’re using a personal cell phone or tablet with cellular data. It’s very unlikely that enough students will bring a device that meets these requirements to school, or that their parents will consent.
By the end of my research, I knew I wanted something that could be utilized easily with students and that wouldn’t take time away from the classroom. In the end, I realized that a club activity would be the best option. Students would need permission from parents to join, including being able to use a device to play, and they could play the game after school.
Cue PokeGo Fit.
PokeGo Fit is a club meant to help students be physically active while enjoying the game and all of its benefits. Students who join will complete physical fitness activities and capture new Pokemon at the same time.
Benefits of PokeGo Fit:
· Get students outside and active
·Build the love of the game
·Encourage collaboration between students
Club Advisors can develop activities that encourage students to do more than just stand around and hunt Pokemon. These activities might include walks or jogs to hatch eggs in the game, field trips to safe locations, and more. Students attending the club will need to make sure that they have charged devices, and plenty of supplies for the duration of the club activity. Club advisors are going to need to make sure that they
Not only does this club allow students to be physically active, but it also allows teachers to teach students the safety elements of the game, and appropriate use of their devices. It’s a great way to bring the digital citizenship element into play. Students should be taught to always be aware of their surroundings and stay in safe areas, no matter what Pokemon may be lurking nearby. They should also be taught to put down their phones when crossing intersections or streets, as well as not to stop in the middle of the road just because something has appeared.
As the game is updated, more features are bound to be added, enriching the experience for players. This will enable club advisors to add more activities to the club itself as well. For example, trading Pokemon is to be coming in a future update.