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.



The IDT Issues and Trends to Watch for in 2016

Personalized Learning

Personalized learning means many things, from using teaching and learning strategies that are accessible to all (e.g., Universal Design for Learning) to mastery learning to competency-based education to cognitive apprenticeships. Adaptive technology already exists to make it happen, so maybe this is the year for personalized learning. I hope so.


3D Technologies

3D technology is not limited to 3D printing (which continues to get cheaper). 3D pens are a fun alternative that have the added bonus of supporting fine motor development in children. But I think the 3D technology to really watch for in 2016 is the 3D projector in the classroom, creating the potential for a powerful, immersive learning experience.



Co-teaching takes collaboration to the next level. While models of co-teaching are a standard of practice in special education, librarians can easily adapt those approaches to information literacy and related instruction.

Transmedia Education

Transmedia storytelling has crept silently into the world of education, and Scholastic has been one of the leaders in this trend, especially in the form of popular franchises like 39 Clues and Skeleton Creek. Educators can further harness the power of transmedia by tying multiple media platforms together (e.g., social media, digital games, learning management systems, books) to deliver a lesson; or by integrating transmedia stories into the classroom or library.

Connected Learning

Connected learning is not anywhere near being the norm yet, but it’s where we need to go to truly foster 21st century learning. Connected learning means a connected curriculum. Think engineering in the language arts classroom or literacy in the mathematics classroom. Connected learning also means making connections between informal and formal learning. The library is the perfect (third) space for this, and while many libraries already connect the informal and formal with learning programs, intentional planning with intentional partnerships between libraries and school districts is necessary for connected learning to really take off.

Credit: Connected Learning Research Network and Digital Media & Learning Research Hub