Enough fussing about it – what does Pokémon GO really mean for the future of elearning?

Anyone with access to a mobile device, a newspaper, or even a pair of eyes will be aware of the recent craze, ‘Pokémon GO’ hitting the world by storm over the last two months. The app based game, which incentivises walking outside so that the user can collect Pokémon and grow their collection, peaked with almost 45 million worldwide users in July. So what does this tell us about the future of augmented reality? Or even the future of elearning?

People CATCH ON quickly

Arguably, it’s the first app to bring augmented reality to the masses. It proves that app users, a widely diverse demographic, can pick up new things incredibly quickly. We’ve heard L&D professionals say all too many times that “their learners can’t and won’t be able to use digital content.” Why? Do they assume that as a learner hasn’t used a bit of software before that they won’t adapt quickly? The mass use of Pokémon GO only proves how adaptive and tech savvy people really are. This shows that any argument that digital is for millennials only, is very very wrong! In fact, research has shown more generally that one of the biggest demographics for online gamers is women over 40! So there you have it, we have a generation of unknowingly tech savvy people.

You have to be IN it, to win it

No doubt, the most effective aspect of the game is that players use their own surroundings to play the game. As they walk to their local shop, home to school, they are still IN the game. This immersion enables the player to feel completely engaged with their game. So what does this mean for elearning? Well, probably that our learners will expect to feel connected and immersed within their learning. One way we approach this currently is the use of immersive scenarios and serious games. By giving the learner a story that they can feel solely responsible for, with branching scenarios dependant on their choices, they feel a sense of autonomy with the learning journey that they’re on. The learner no longer wants to feel like they’re sat behind a desktop in their office – they want and expect to be immersed within the scenario.

Is AR the future of elearning?

As a learning organisation, we’re interested in what it will mean for training, and the how it might help employees to learn in future. In the past, we’ve already touched on the role of Virtual Reality and how useful it would be for offering first-hand experience to learners. As this still seems like a pipe-dream in terms of adoption is it possible that these apps could be the stepping stone towards it? Giving the learner an experience that combines both the real world and digital content is surely a pretty positive compromise? By implementing augmented reality into a game, or in our case, learning content, it could let the learner think intuitively and naturally, which should go on to change their behaviour.

Pokémon GO has shown how quickly people can be convinced to try something they were originally hesitant about. By gamifying it and personalising it to the user’s surroundings and by requiring active participation. One of the main purposes of creating the game, was to encourage people to walk and be active outside.  Medical Daily has publicised the potential health benefits of using Pokémon GO, both in terms of physical and mental health. With this said, could augmented reality be applied in the same way to make elearning topics that the learner seems disconnected with, suddenly more relatable?

Augmented reality could possibly revolutionise a lot of the things we experience in everyday life. It changes how we both see and experience the world around us. From gaming, to medical treatment to most importantly for us, elearning, the future is extremely exciting. Instant feedback, relatable scenarios and personalised content is something we’ve talked about for a long time here at Saffron but it seems that augmented reality being accepted so openly by the general public is a step in the right direction. For those who value the blended approach to learning, content that could add digital resources to practical training is also an opportunity not to be missed.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch, if you want to discuss how AR/VR could be used in your organisation, or add your comments below – we’d love to hear what you think.