Pokemon Go and eLearning? The Lesson We Can Learn From the Popular New Smartphone Game

There is a new game sweeping the nation and it’s extremely hard to miss. If you haven’t seen the headlines, news reports or checked any form of social media lately, there is still an extremely good chance you have been exposed to this game. Next time you are out and about, I urge you to stop for just a moment to look at all the people around you. It won’t take more than a few minutes to understand that this game is seriously taking over. Everywhere you go you can see people of all ages marching up and down the streets with a smartphone in hand, only pausing when they’ve spotted a wild creature ready for capture. The game I am describing is called Pokemon Go, and with over 7.5 million downloads in the first three days, it is a clear representation of the future of gaming. However, what if this game means just as much for learning as it does for gaming?

A New View of Gaming

Learning? How could some silly game have anything to do with learning? This might be the thought going through your head right now, and I don’t blame you. Playing video games has traditionally been considered a negative activity, especially for children and teenagers. Teachers, parents and most adults generally have seen video games as a distraction to learning and development. In the past, these observations may have had truth to them, but today we must look at gaming in a new way.

What is the number one reason why people love to play video games? Engagement. People want to have their minds stimulated. This is an area where gaming has always excelled far beyond learning. While the gaming industry has been evolving since its creation, the learning industry has stayed much more stagnant. Luckily, this trend has begun to change. The people in charge of learning and development (L&D) are seeing trends such as the current one with Pokemon Go and realizing that we must rethink the way that we try to teach and engage others with content. This is where elearning comes into the picture.

eLearning: The Pokemon Go of learning

If you are looking for engagement when it comes to learning, look no further than elearning. According to the Research Institute of America, elearning can increase retention rates by up to 60% in comparison to standard training. This retention rate increase is due to the user engagement being much higher when they are exposed to elearning. This type of learning also represents the first time we have seen full integration between technology and educational development. Finally, we have found a way to engage learners and it is by using the same technology and devices that have commonly been used for gaming. With this integration, individuals have the ability to learn in a greater variety of ways. Whether it be on their laptop, desktop, tablet, or mobile phone, everyone has access to learning content.

Just like with Pokemon Go, elearning can also be done on the go. This is referred to as mlearning and it is a subgroup within the elearning industry. So although the connection between this smartphone game and the way people learn seemed like a stretch at first, there are actually many similarities. Engagement, mobility, and accessibility are what make these two separate entities fall into seemingly the same category. If we take just a quick step back from the craziness of Pokemon Go there is actually a lot that can be learned from it all.