5 Ways in Which Pokemon Go Exemplifies 21st Century Learning

With all the recent news coverage about Pokemon Go, and because I am really impressed with the way libraries are responding to this trend (librarians rock!), I thought I’d take the opportunity to discuss how Pokemon Go can be seen as an exemplar of 21st century learning.

What makes Pokemon Go a valuable 21st century learning tool? Here are 5 ways.

  1. It’s a fun way to practice critical thinking and problem solving skills. Pokemon Go requires strategic thinking, and strategic thinking is central to successful problem solving.
  2. It’s collaborative. 21st century learning is all about collaboration, and Pokemon Go fosters a sense of teamwork, something so important to the collaborative process.
  3. It requires information literacy skills. Finding, evaluating, and synthesizing information coming from both the virtual and physical world is information literacy in practice.
  4. It promotes spatial thinking skills. With the explosion and increasing ubiquity of GIS technology, spatial thinking is an essential skill for 21st century learning. And spatial thinking is an important skill in STEM education.
  5. It’s an avenue to digital citizenship. Digital literacy, digital access, digital commerce (pokecoins), digital etiquette (and real world etiquette), and digital security (personal information) are just some of the elements that must be practiced or addressed during Pokemon Go play.

What makes Pokemon Go different from many other games is its transmediality. The physical world and virtual world truly collide in this transmedia game adventure. And because Pokemon Go is part of a much larger (and long-lived) transmedia franchise, librarians can take advantage of its many media platforms (graphic novels, videos, video games)  to promote multimodal literacy.

Pay attention librarians! Pokemon Go is not just a trendy new game. It also represents an advancement in the growth of this phenomenon we call transmedia storytelling. With transmedia storytelling, we are entering a new era of literacy, where the idea of reading is changing altogether to encompass reading in multiple modalities (multimodal literacy) in order to gain the full story.



Library Trends for 2015

Happy New Year! I love the beginning of a new year, and one of my favorite things is to check out predictions about ed tech trends for the coming year. I’ve looked over several lists, but my hands-down favorite this year comes from Teach Thought. It was actually posted last May to predict three categories of 30 ed tech trends for the 2014-15 school year. The post identified 30 trends each in the following categories:”Trending Up,” “Awkward Middle Ground,” and “Trending Down.” Here is a rundown of the trends that directly impact libraries and librarians, along with my thoughts (I’ve numbered them according to their place on the list. Some are quite amusing.):

“Trending Up”

5. Digital citizenship. This has been a trend for so long that I don’t think of it as a trend anymore. Librarians know that in order for students to function in a digitally-rich world, they need to develop digital citizenship skills. Maybe classroom teachers are finally coming around to this not-so-new concept.

6. Focus on non-fiction, digital media. We can thank the Common Core for this, and I do see it as an important trend in school libraries specifically. Age appropriate, high quality non-fiction sources are needed to help build research skills in younger students, and digital media is part of that. When it comes to academic research though, I think there is still a “just Google it” mindset by many classroom teachers. That’s why librarians are more important than ever.

12. Digital literacy. Digital literacy and digital citizenship go hand in hand, as do digital literacy and information literacy. Is the librarian’s central role in this recognized? Not enough, but if couched in terms of digital citizenship we may get there sooner rather than later.

13. Focus on learning spaces. Yes, I think the movement toward a learning commons model of the library is definitely a growing trend.

14. Design thinking. I don’t think this is a trend yet because not enough people even know what design thinking is. The concept of design thinking is an important one for information literacy instruction though. See my post titled Information Literacy by Design [Thinking].

18. Genius hour, maker hour, collaboration time. Maker spaces in libraries is most definitely a growing trend. Are genius hours, maker hours and collaboration time a growing trend in education? I don’t think so, at least not yet. Of course, the library is the natural hub to host those events.

23. Librarian as digital media specialist. Really? This is a growing trend? To me, this is an established fact!

“Awkward Middle Ground”

5. Computer coding. I’m in agreement with this. Where does computer coding belong as an ed tech trend? Is it really the new literacy? I don’t think so. I do think the development of design thinking skills (i.e. creative problem solving), which is an outcome of learning to code, is the real trend.

6. Traditional reading lists of truly great literature. What? This might be going away in the classroom, but librarians will never stop promoting reading of “truly great literature.”

23. Librarian/DMS as bibliophile. That’s crazy talk. I have NEVER met a librarian who was not a bibliophile.

24. Online encyclopedias. I’m not sure if this refers to Wikipedia or actual subscription-based online encyclopedias. Neither is going away any time soon.

“Trending Down”

1. Mass education publishers. It’s wishful thinking to believe this trend to be dying. It is alive and well. Standardized testing, anyone?

5. Draconian district filters. I truly wish this trend would die. It is the bane of every librarian’s existence. But I can tell you it’s alive and well, at least in my daughter’s school district.

6. Humanities. Think digital humanities. No, not “trending down.”

8. “21st century learning” as a phrase or single idea. Who has ever thought of “21st century learning” as a single idea? Bill Gates, maybe? Librarians and educators who teach 21st century skills certainly don’t.

20Flash drives, hard drives, CDs, emailing files. No, not “trending down,” with the exception of CDs maybe. The cloud is great, but not the end-all-be-all, especially in light of recent cloud hacking events.

23. Librarian as no-nonsense, ruler-wielding taskmaster. Seriously? I’m insulted (although, I think we all know that ONE librarian who perpetuates the stereotype).