#PokemonGo, Being Observant, and Innovation

This isn’t a post on how to use “Pokemon Go” in the classroom. If you haven’t read some by now, you will see a bunch coming your way.

This is about one of the characteristics of “The Innovator’s Mindset”; observant.

8 Characteristics of the Innovator's Mindset

Ultimately, this post was sparked from a tweet in response to the following from Ian Mac:

My response to his question on “theoretical physics” connecting to Pokemon was the following…


Innovators, no matter what field they are in, pay attention and often ask, “How does this apply to use?”

Business are looking at this right now because they are seeing this huge rush (that may or may not last), and wondering what that means for them.

So are educators.

David Theriault wrote this really interesting post titled, “14 Reasons Why Pokemon Go is the Future of Learning“.  My assumption is that David doesn’t believe that we will all be playing “Pokemon Go” in lieu of literacy and numeracy next year, but he is paying attention.  As are others.

Amanda Dykes mades this observation on Twitter the other day.


The notion of being observant is crucial to innovation, and if you are willing to see connections, you never know the impact they can have. For example, have you heard about “BreakoutEDU”? There is probably not a day on my Twitter feed that I do not see something about it, yet this was an idea that was conceived from an experience James Sanders had in my own hometown, which was written about in this recent US today article:

Sanders has said he got the idea after visiting an escape room in Edmonton, Canada, with a group of high school students. “I’d never seen high school students work that hard in my life,” he told Education Week last year. He and colleagues began prototyping lock boxes and building them in co-founder Mark Hammons’ Fresno, Calif., garage, not unlike how many other tech startups took shape.

Since its inception last year, the company has invited teachers to develop their own games built around the boxes. Teachers have stepped forward with hundreds of games on nearly every topic, from environmental science and Advanced Placement physics to Kindergarten-level literacy.

Isn’t it crucial that we pay attention to the things going on outside of education, and try to make connections to how it applies to learning? Blogs and Twitter were not made for education, but people made the connection, and now these are two things that I see as “crucial” to my own learning.

In “The Innovator’s Mindset“, I defined innovation in the following way:

I’m defining innovation as a way of thinking that creates something new and better. Innovation can come from either “invention” (something totally new) or “iteration” (a change of something that already exists), but if it does not meet the idea of “new and better,” it is not innovative.

The “iteration” can come from within or outside of education; it is your thinking and creating that makes it relevant to your field.

As I said at the beginning of this post, this is not about how to use “Pokemon Go” in the classroom.  This is about paying attention and being observant to our world.  The next big idea for your classroom could already exist; you might just need to find it and tweak it.