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Pokémon Go wisdom

Posted on: August 28, 2016

There is a lesson from Pokémon Go that could be applied to teacher professional development and the design of learning experiences for students. It is learning to play the long game.

The long game is favouring long-term results and rewards over instant gratification and short-term gain. Here are three long game strategies in Pokémon Go.

The first is levelling up by accumulating XP (experience points).

One way of doing this is by catching mundane Pokémon like Pidgeys, Rattatas, and Weedles. These creatures are common and easy to catch. Catch them, convert them to candy by transferring them to the Professor, feed that candy to stronger versions of their own kind, and evolve them to the next stage. This results in quick bumps in XP.

The learning by teachers and students should also be about getting more experiences. Like Pokémon Go, these life experiences should take place outside the classroom. Instead of the mundane Pokémon, they should be going for variety. But leave out the candy-cannibalism, please!

The higher your XP in Pokémon Go, the better the Pokémon you tend to find. The more experiences you have in life, the better equipped you are to handle what comes your way.

The second long game strategy is trimming the fat.

This means discarding what you do not need from both your bag of items (initial limit 350) and Pokémon storage (initial limit 250). Not clearing items out not only leads to clutter, it also prevents the inclusion of newer items, e.g., higher CP wild Pokémon or more Poké balls.

Clearing items like healing sprays and raspberries might seem counterintuitive because they are supposed to help. But these help only if you use them regularly. If not, hoarding them is like hanging on to medicines and encyclopaedias that you do not use.

Both teachers and students need not hoard information and artefacts just in case. It is a discipline to decide what you need and what you do not. Teachers and students need to realise that the brain is designed to forget and that we operate largely on just in time.

The third long game strategy is battling in gyms every 20 hours or so in order to get free Poké coins.

If you are quick after a successful battle, you might claim a place in a Pokémon gym. Doing this gives you a 10-coin reward at the shop. Accumulate enough coins and you can buy something from the shop without using a credit card.

This is like saving a little bit of one’s allowance every week or one’s salary every month. The drops might take a while to fill the bucket, but the reward is that much sweeter when you enjoy it.

We do not learn from experiences. We learn from reflecting on experiences. -- John Dewey.

People might think of incorporating Pokémon Go to teach content. You can. But I would rather use it to teach values like appreciating diversity, consistency and discipline, as well as persistence and patience.

This is about learning with and from the game without realising that you are learning. That is both a strength and weakness of this form of game-based learning.

It is a strength because the learning is experiential and emotional. It is a weakness because the takeaways might not be obvious. Both teachers and students need to reflect and transfer.

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