Monday, July 18, 2016

Gamify Exercise

Last night I spent two hours Pokemon hunting on the campus of Texas State University with my children. We were not the only ones. Students were everywhere!

My son was a first generation Pokemon fan having played the video games, collected the cards, and watched the cartoon when he was young. He knew everything about the app Pokemon Go and added a few interesting thoughts. Despite the crazy things you see reported online about the game, Pokemon Go has done some great things:

  • People are going outside and walking/riding/running to collect Pokemon, visit PokeStops, battle, and incubate eggs, etc. Case in point, my high school age daughters walked more than two miles hunting for Pokemon while they usually don't want to get out of bed.
  • People are exploring their surroundings. I had no idea there were so many significant features to Texas State University. Each one was a PokeStop where I collected things, but also explored areas of campus I had not visited before.
  • Pokemon is connecting generations. Many first generation players are now parents. Those parents are introducing the game to their children through this app.
  • Pokemon is connecting families. My only experience with Pokemon was as the mom of a player until now. I was surprised to find that all three of my kids (21, 16, & 14) were playing the game and wanted to spend two hours in the heat walking around a college campus. Together!
So the idea of gamifying education is not a new one. And neither is gamifying exercise. 

Just last year, Laura Hearnsberger (@hearnsberger), who is the Coordinator of Innovative Programs for San Marcos CISD, presented a session for PE teachers in New Braunfels ISD on creating scavenger hunts with the Klikaklu app on the student iPads. While a teacher created scavenger hunt might be less sophisticated than an app like Pokemon Go, it would allow teachers to customize the exercise or route they want the students to use. 

Or why not create a PBL that combines local History with exercise and make a walking scavenger hunt with certain mileage that takes the user past local historical sites with added information created by student historians. (I thought about this during a trip to New Orleans this summer. What a cool way to explore the French Quarter!) The possibilities are endless!

Meanwhile, I am off! Gotta catch 'em all!


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