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.

 

 

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5 Ways to Improve Students’ Online Reading Comprehension

Students prefer print to reading online. At least that’s what the research has found. I think most librarians can confirm this anecdotally.

Is anybody asking why? Because its implications are problematic.

We know that online reading comprehension requires a separate set of skills than print-based reading comprehension; skills such as interpreting, critically evaluating and then synthesizing multiple modes of information.

Online reading comprehension becomes even more critical as students enter college and are required to locate, evaluate, synthesize and communicate information stemming from online resources. That of course, is the basis for information literacy.

Students’ current preferences for print suggests that their online reading comprehension skills are underdeveloped. This is not surprising considering that schools have been very slow to adapt to 21st century learning — and many still equate 21st century skills with technology skills.

Add to that the misinterpretation of what a digital native is (yes, being born into a digital age makes you a digital native in a sense, but not necessarily a digitally literate native) and you can see we have a problem. A BIG problem that ultimately is hurting students’ abilities to function as information and digital literates in both college and career.

So what can we do to nurture the development of students’ online reading comprehension skills? Here are 5 ways librarians can tackle the problem:

  1. Transmedia storytelling. Transmedia storytelling is storytelling across multiple media platforms, exercising multiple literacies. Librarians can support online reading comprehension by promoting the reading of transmedia stories in the library, and collaborating with teachers to integrate transmedia stories into the classroom. See my previous posts here and here to learn more.
  2. Maker activities. Maker activities, especially of the digital variety, support online reading comprehension as students locate, evaluate and learn how to synthesize multiple digital elements together to communicate messages within their local or global communities. Transmedia storytelling can serve as an inspiration for maker activities.
  3. Digital games. Strategy (e.g. Minecraft, SimCity) and role playing (e.g. World of Warcraft) games, in particular, help develop the types of problem solving skills that are inherent in digital and information literacies. In that way, digital games are also good for supporting online reading comprehension skills. Librarians can provide access to digital games and game play in the library, and collaborate with teachers to bring digital games into the classroom to promote multiple literacies.
  4. WebQuests. WebQuests use elements of gamification to help students develop online research skills — and online reading comprehension skills along the way. WebQuests that are presented with a storytelling narrative (e.g. scenario-based, fantasy-based) motivate students to solve online information problems in an authentic context. Librarians can use WebQuests for library instruction, or just as easily integrate them into classroom-based lessons.
  5. Alternative research assignments. Research assignments that utilize social media (e.g. blogs, wikis) or share-able tools (e.g. infographics) support the full gamut of online reading comprehension skills – locating, evaluating, synthesizing, and communicating information. Librarians play an important role in advocating for and articulating the value of alternatives to the traditional research paper.