Playing the augmented reality smartphone game Pokemon Go may help students build stronger communication skills in classrooms, a new study claims. Researchers from Iowa State University in the US focused on giving students equitable access to technology and help them build multi-modal communication skills.
That meant not only using technology to consume information or replace traditional classroom tools, but experimenting with new forms of communication. Engaging students through Pokemon Go, a game many are already playing outside the classroom, also generates interest and connects students to their work, according the researchers.
“It is important to give students authentic choices that really have meaning in their lives. We need to encourage them to develop questions, research the answers and then share that information in writing,” they said. Pokemon Go, like many video games, provides players with limited information or what researchers describe as “just in time learning.” As a result, players have questions about how to use certain tools or advance to the next level.
While playing the game with her own children, assistant professor Emily Howell from Iowa State University saw that it could help students with writing and research. Pokemon Go incorporates different modes of communication – gestures, visuals and directions – which makes it a good fit for the classroom, she said.
Players see the character on their phone, the character is integrated into a map and the player controls catching the character. Pokemon Go illustrates the need to understand multimodal text, which reflects how we communicate with others, she said.
“We do not just send a text or email, we have a live chat or video conferences. Anytime teachers can find something that students are already doing, and comes in multimodal form, they can harness that interest and teach students about the tool’s potential,” Howell said. “It is not just giving students the technology and letting them play, it is really guiding that interaction so they can express meaning,” Howell said. The study was published in the journal The Reading Teacher.