Taxonomy Go!

A friend and former colleague posted the meme above, and I found it funny, but also disturbing. “Put down your phone and learn something” could only be said by someone my age or older. It posits a false dichotomy, living as we do in a time when one can much more easily pick up one’s phone and learn something.

But Pokemon Go does seem like it could translate naturally into a taxonomy app, or a birdwatching app, or a scavenger hunt app, or an architectural sites of the world app. Apps and perhaps even games, focusing less on interacting with imaginary characters visible only on your phone, and more on spotting what is present in the world around you, sharing it, and tagging it, in ways that are collaborative and both earn you points and connect you with people.

How can those of us who work in education develop apps, or use existing ones such as Instagram and Snapchat, that have a strong educational component?

And what would happen if there were extra points to be earned in Pokemon Go if you actually notice what is written on the inscription at the base of a statue, and not only the Pokemon hiding behind it? Or what would happen if some special Pokemon could be set free to wander about a children’s hospital by the staff, but only after the person who came looking for them took time to read to a patient or volunteer in some other way?

How do we get more people to pick up their phones and learn something?


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  • Pseudonym

    When I played Ingress, I found that I learned a huge amount about the world I lived in.

    One of the ways to level up in the game was to submit sites as portals (which are now sites in Pokemon Go). So the game was encouraging you to search out historically interesting buildings, memorial plaques, public art, and so on. And if they were already in the game, the game encouraged you to go there.

    When planning holidays or day trips, we would look to see where we hadn’t been before (because you got points for visiting or capturing portals that you had never visited or captured before), and then we’d go to all the interesting things in that place. I learned so much about the area in which I live, and now every place I go, I see it in a new light.