Pokemon Go will catch principals off guard – expert

A Perth-based educational technologist says principals should prepare for a lot of distracted students and staff this week.

Skye Moroney, managing director of Eyks – an education technology company – said Pokémon Go, a wildly popular game that was released during the school holidays, is likely to distract students and teachers when school returns this week.

He said that while the impact will be swift and positive for the most part, the level of distraction the game could cause largely depends on how principals choose how to deal with it.

“There are three ways schools will likely respond to the game: embrace, forbid or ignore it. Simply put, ignoring the app will have the most negative effect,” Maroney told The Educator.

“If a school has no plans on how to deal with this, then by the end of the week they will have a badly implemented a forbid style approach that will generate angst from the students and lower the confidence from parents.”

Maroney added that forbidding the game will be the easiest thing for schools to do, as they will only need to align it to their student code of conduct and be vigilant.

“This is a normal approach and is how the multitude of fads and crazes has been dealt with by schools for decades. This is not a bad thing, but timeliness and consistency is important to reinforce the values of the school,” he said.

“Students and parents may not be big fans of this approach but they will [for the most part] respect the school for remaining consistent.”

He said embracing the game will be “the hardest and most rewarding” response for a school to take.

“Pokémon Go is so absorbing that aligning it to learning outcomes will let teachers engage students that may not have been reached through traditional teaching methods,” he said.  

“The benefits and learning opportunities in the classroom are massive for students and teachers.”

Maroney added that the community and inclusiveness that the game fosters could also jumpstart the community relations and philanthropy of the school.

“Getting the parents involved in the school and its community programs is something most schools struggle with now days,” he said.

‘Considerable benefits’ to leveraging Pokemon

Maroney said that for most principals, the game will look just like any other fad or craze which they have seen before and have learned how to ride out.

“Some principals will follow their modus operandi and embrace parts of the craze to positive effect. It is important to note that for principals this is just a part of what they face week in and week out in running their schools,” he said.

“I would suggest to principals that there are considerable benefits to leveraging Pokémon Go that will affect the school and its greater community.

“Use Pokémon Go to get a jumpstart on some projects and outreach, or to reiterate the schools expectations and respect,” he said.

Risk of physical accidents

Maroney said that students run the risk of having physical accidents due to the distracting nature of the game.

“Pokémon Go is absorbing and students being distracted will cause physical accidents. Treat them as you would have any other accident previously,” he said.

Maroney added that principals should make sure their school’s damages and device policy is rock solid, and minimise the risk of physical injuries near Pokestops – places in Pokémon Go that allow users to collect items such as eggs and more Poke Balls to capture more Pokémon.