LEARNING BY WALKING - POKÉMON GO AND MOBILE TECHNOLOGY IN FORMAL EDUCATION

P. Mozelius, S. Bergström-Eriksson, J. Jaldemark

Mid Sweden University (SWEDEN)
Peripatetic group learning has a long history going back to the walking sessions led by Plato and Aristotle in Lyceum of Athens. To involve play and physical training was a frequently used didactic idea also used by other teachers in ancient Greece. Pokémon Go has a relatively short history that started in the summer of 2016 when this location-based game has a faster global spread than anyone could imagine. In the first week after the release, the game became the most downloaded app ever. Pokémon Go is a game where the players use real world maps with buildings, roads and water correctly indicated. It is a game played on mobiles where Pokémon figures pops up on maps and can be captured with virtual balls. To catch the Pokémon figures, players must move physically to the place where the figure is located and unlike most other digital games Pokémon Go involves outdoor activities and long walks.

With the high degree of physical activities Pokémon Go has got researches attention as an exergame. There are also several studies looking at Pokémon Go as augmented reality game. In this study the focus has been on Pokémon Go’s potential as a mobile learning game for outdoor activities in formal education. Two primary school classes have used the game in teaching and learning sessions on Mathematics and Social science. The aim of the study is to describe and discuss how a location based game might be used as a tool for outdoor activities in formal education.

Each class has been divided into groups consisting of three to four students for lessons planned as walks with one smartphone per group to stimulate collaboration between students. The walks included Pokémon stops where teachers conducted planned teaching sessions, later the outdoor lessons were followed-up with traditional classroom settings. Data has been gathered from group interviews with students and individual teacher interviews.

Findings show that Pokémon Go could be seen as a learning stimulating game augmenting traditional teaching and learning sessions. Students told that catching the Pokémon figures was what they enjoyed the most, but some students also mentioned that they appreciated to learn about the statues they passed in the vicinity during the excursion. Most positive finding was that mobile and game-based educational setting seemed to encourage students to co-production of learning content for their formal learning. However, Pokémon Go is no silver bullet for the ongoing digitisation of primary school, the conclusion is rather that location-based games have a potential to vitalise formal education, if they are carefully integrated to curriculum.