Pokemon Go #DigCitPLN Update

As I write this post, I am singing along with the Scottish duo, The Proclaimers, “I would walk 500 miles…” Although I haven’t quite walked 500 miles in search of Pokemons, I certainly have joined in on the excitement that has captured the attention of all ages across the globe.

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 4.33.45 PMMy previous post, Pokemon Go…Catch Some #DigCit Advice #DigCitPLN, has led me to further examine the role of digital citizenship in regards to Pokemon Go and has had me outside and playing with my son. In fact, he has recently recognized educator, Ryan Read as the DigCitKids #DigCitAward recipient for embedding all nine digital citizenship elements into Pokemon Go!

This post is an update and further looks at the potential of Pokemon Go in Education, an idea that the ISTE DigCit PLN is going to be exploring to see if the project can help play a role in helping schools and educators assess the educational value of the game.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been collaborating with the organizer of the UK Digital Citizenship Summit, William Jenkins, and Ramona Pierson and her team at Declara to curate articles about Pokemon Go in education.

We will be producing a DigCit PLN Pokemon Go Safety Advice document as well as a report that looks at how the game was adopted so quickly and what educators can learn from those methods, how universities, libraries and museums are using the game, the health benefits and the social impact the game is having on people around the world.

Our research and the articles we’ve read suggest that this is something worth exploring. The reactions have included a full range from skepticism to complete adoption.

Collaborating with William during #DigCitSummitUK and Ramona and the Declara team on this project, I have a better appreciation of things like the “The Technology Adoption Cycle,” and how ideas and technology get adopted.

Can anything be done to test this game before bringing it into the classroom? We think there is.

Here are some of the extracts and insights that we’ve read about for students to write stories about Pokemon Go:

Currently, Pokémon Go doesn’t have much storytelling built in about the places people are going to; players simply find their Pokémon and head to the next location

Since students already have their phone in their hands, have them use the Google Street View app to take a 360° spherical panoramic image of the Pokestop

Have students write a short piece about their personal reflection of the game.

Perhaps players visit a location, and then see archival news stories related to that location

perhaps players notice something in that location that’s worthy of a news story in and of itself.

Right now, Pokémon Go doesn’t have much storytelling built in about the places people are going to; players simply find their Pokémon and head to the next location

Get learners to create a digital poster, presentation, comic, or video of what makes a good trainer.

Your students can then create presentations or digital posters about their top three favorite Pokémon.

Ask your learners to work in pairs or small groups and come up with a list of five to ten safety tips and good practices for players. Some ideas include having an non-playing adult present, not playing in the streets, practicing good judgment, and exhibiting good manners

Once your learners play the game, have them write a digital story of their experiences battling or capturing a Pokémon

When playing the game with my son, we have found some really interesting Pokestops and have been disappointed when there has been little or no description of the Pokestop:

It would be nice to have a detailed history of the places you visit and may want to revisit or research more on.

Unfortunately, the app’s “journal” tracks only the time and date of each Pokéstop, but does not identify the place by name.

In Putting Education in “Educational” Apps: Lessons From the Science of Learning the article highlights that:

Apps that encourage children to connect new information to their daily lives, for example, by learning about triangles by taking pictures of triangles they see in their home, will provide a more effective learning experience than an app that in which children simply pick a triangle out of a line-up of different shapes.”

We further explored how the Pokestops were created and that a description was one of the ways to increase the chances of getting a portal accepted but was not compulsory (See the Ingress Candidate Portal criteria post for more details).

The DigCit PLN Pokemon Go report that we are working on will highlight what Kipp Founder, Mike Fienberg argues that great Edtech facilitates “Great teaching… and more of it.” By this, he means that great EdTech tools either free up educators time by removing administrative tasks to ensure that teachers can spend longer in the classroom, or it facilitates learning outside of school hours.

If we add some of the things that we’ve explored about Pokemon Go so far, these are our observations:

  • Understanding educators desire to explore Pokemon Go
  • Realizing the need to test with some pilots before “scaling”
  • Appreciating that there is hesitancy as some educators may be thinking “here we go again…the new next big thing in education”
  • Kids will be playing Pokemon Go whether educators like it or not…whether the game is banned or not
  • We agree with some of the comments from the blogs above that we should be using all learning opportunities
  • Anything that facilitates “Great teaching and more of it” is what good EdTech should do, so Pokemon Go has potential
  • That not all the Ingress Portals/Pokestops have a description

This is the idea that we’ve come up with, that we hope will allow any educators who are advocate of Pokemon Go to test the games potential and hopefully establish some evidence and case studies before taking this into the classroom.

Pokemon Go Homework Challenge
The DigCit PLN and DigCitKids have come up with an idea.  Here’s something we can all easily do to amplify student voice in this conversation.

Let’s ask our students to assess if Pokemon Go has any educational value. Let’s have our students write a description about local Pokestops. For example, ask students to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the Pokestop?
  2. When was the Pokestop created?
  3. Why was the Pokestop created?
  4. Who was the architect/designer/artist?
  5. Did you notice the Pokestop before you played Pokemon Go
  6. How many stories and articles did you find about the Pokestop
  7. What did you know about the Pokestop before you researched the Pokestop?
  8. What did you know about the Pokestop after you researched it?
  9. Write the description that you’d like to see about the Pokestop on Pokemon Go

Have a competition between Team Instinct, Mystic and Valour to see which team in your school supplies the most and /or best descriptions.

Post the student responses at schools/libraries and museums that you know welcome Pokemon players and/or who have Pokemon Go noticeboard…promoting student work while doing some school community outreach and educating other players: A real win-win scenario, all outside of school time!

We would welcome educators and students to also record these details on the following link:

Pokemon Go Homework Challenge

We will then ensure that these stories are shared with the DigCit PLN and DigCitKids and others in our network who subscribe to our Pokemon Go updates.

To receive these updates and/or to join our DigCit Pokemon Go Steering Committee please complete the details on the following link: DigCit Pokemon Go Contact Form.

We’d like to thank William Jenkins at Tech Stories and Ramona Peirson at Declara for all their help with developing our Pokemon Go Digital Citizenship resources.

Here is a link to the Pokemon Go Collection on Declara that we have curated to date, and which will for the basis of the DigCit PLN’s Pokemon Go back to school advice.declaratechstories

Pokemon Go… Catch some #DigCit Advice #digcitPLN

pokeisteJust as I’m catching my breath from all the resources that were shared during ISTE, this whole Pokemon Go thing comes along.

My first thought with this global phenomenon is that with all the edtech tools that have been around for a while but have struggled to gain traction…you’ve got to wonder about what the Pokemon Go development team have done differently? All the sales calls and emails that we receive from the vendors after ISTE, but here comes a game that’s probably never made a sales call, emailed a school or gave a 2 hour presentation… but educators are writing more articles about the role it can play in education than I can keep up with?!?

I know that my friend and colleague William Jenkins (@EdTech_Stories) will have a few things to say about what we can learn from this.

Like many other educators, I am excited to explore what the implications of Pokemon Go in education are, both in general and from the perspective of digital citizenship? I will be consulting with and working on this with the ISTE DigCitPLN  as we explore the risks and opportunities… stay tuned for updates.

If anyone in my PLN would be interested in contributing to any Pokemon Go DigCit advice that the ISTE DigCitPLN will be working on, please let me know.

Red Alert: The App is Not the Problem

the app is not the problem (2)I can no longer remain silent about this.

I’ve seen posts warning parents about the dangers of this app and that app with all sorts of sensational headlines. But, I have a spoiler alert for you: The app is not the problem.

We are so afraid that we can’t control or monitor what our teens are doing that we’ve labeled certain apps as “RED ALERT” when that red alert should really be placed on us. I get it though, it is easier to place blame on the app than to acknowledge or address the source of the problem.

Blocking and banning certain apps or sites will not change behaviors. Look at all the violence happening around our world. Somehow, we have forgotten that we are all members of the human race and what happens to one of us — happens to all of us. To quote from one of my all-time favorite movies, the Dead Poet Society, “That you are here — that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

So, the solution begins with each of us. It’s time to contribute our verse to this critical conversation. We need to engage, educate and mentor our society on the choices and consequences of being human. We need to model what respect for ourselves and others really looks like and to invest in building community wherever we go.

I think the hack needed for education really begins and ends with the ability to humanize the person next to us, as well as across the screen. When we can do this, we can change culture and build communities at the local, global and digital level simultaneously.

Let’s stop the blame game, address the underlying problem and celebrate what makes us human.  

Lessons Learned Going Device Free #digcit

My Fenway Park History 

The world has changed drastically since I was a kid growing up in the bleachers at Fenway Park. Yesterday, I decided to take a step back in time and enjoy the game without any devices or electronic distractions, Be in the Moment: Going Device Free to Fenway Park.

Yesterday was a walk down memory lane as I remembered every game, all the players I’ve cheered on and most importantly, the people I’ve been with. Maybe you have to be from Boston to understand that baseball is like a religion here and the Park is just magical. Bart Giamatti, the Baseball Commissioner once said, “As I grew up, I knew that as a building (Fenway Park) was on the level of Mount Olympus, the Pyramids at Giza, the nation’s capitol, the czar’s Winter Palace, and the Louvre – except, of course, that is better than all those inconsequential places.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself and Jimmy Fallon’s character in Fever Pitch could have been just about anyone I grew up with. We might be called a little obsessive when it comes to our home team, but as Bostonians, we are known for our unwavering loyalty whether we are winning or losing and above all, we love our team.

Lessons Learned from #Unplugging4TheDay

So, yesterday I went to the Park device free with only a baseball glove in hand and let me tell you, I felt some serious JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out) as I relived my childhood through the eyes of my nine-year-old son. We took a picture at home before the game and then I went silent on all my social media feeds.

Maybe it’s because Fenway Park is my favorite place in the world, but yesterday, everything was more vibrant. The colors were popping, the smells were more aromatic, and the atmosphere was just simply electric. I felt myself snapping mental images, so I could revisit them in my memory like the pictures I have in my head sitting in the bleachers with my dad.

I realized how much I was taking in details like the lovely couple sitting in front of us who also appeared as if they came to the game device free. When I mentioned it, they said, “We took our pictures before the game started. We don’t need our phones, we enjoy being together.” Next to them was a woman scoring the game (on paper, not an app) and sitting behind us was a hockey family who had devices, but they were nowhere to be seen.

Is it important to go to the game device free? Absolutely not. Take your barfing rainbow snaps and selfies. Capture the moment, but please be mindful that you are at a live event and that you don’t have to watch the event through your device. This happens to be the Big Papi’s last season and although it would have been great to snap a picture or two, I have all the images I could possibly need, tucked neatly away in my memory bank. Yesterday, I loved singing the National Anthem, the 7th inning stretch (and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”), being part of the rally at the bottom of the ninth, and most importantly, I loved being at the game with my son.

What was my big take away yesterday being device free? I should do it more often. Yesterday, I was not a prisoner to my device. No one virtually owned my attention or my time. I didn’t feel pulled in a million directions nor did I feel compelled that I “had to” check my phone, answer my email, upload my status, etc. I’ll end with a fabulous message from Adele who recently reminded a concert goer to stop recording her and to just enjoy the live concert.

I hope the next time someone asks me if I left my device at home on purpose that I’ll respond just as the couple did sitting in front of us yesterday.


Be in the Moment: Going Device Free to Fenway Park

What I wouldn’t do to have a picture of me and my dad in the bleachers at Fenway Park. But, when I was a kid falling in love with a baseball team in the late 70’s, no one brought a camera to a sporting event, except the newscasters. The rest of us, well, we sat back and enjoyed the game.
Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 9.23.09 AM

This is exactly what I’m going to do today with my son. I am going to practice what I preach and I’m going device free.

Although I’d love nothing more than an album full of pictures of being a kid growing up at Fenway Park, the memories and images I have in my mind are crystal-clear. I don’t need a picture to remember when Don “Gerbil” Zimmer was our coach, Carlton “Pudge” Fisk was our catcher and how George “Boomer” Scott delighted us with every crack of the bat. If I was distracted, it was because I was scoring the game with my dad or bugging him to find the hotdog vendor. I wasn’t a prisoner behind a device trying to catch the big play and upload it for all my friends to see, I was in the moment with my dad and a crowd full of fans cheering on their home team.

Today, I’ll repeat that experience with my son. So, Big Papi hit a home run today because we will be totally present and will capture the moment without being behind a screen!

Digital Citizenship Summit Heads to Twitter HQ in October

Unexpectedkindness is themost powerful,least costly, andmost underratedagent of humanchangeThis week’s announcement about the Digital Citizenship Summit being held at Twitter Headquarters on 28 October is such an incredible opportunity for the entire digital citizenship global community that I wanted to write this post to thank all the people who have supported us from the very beginning. There have so many people behind the scenes, volunteers, speakers, and supporters from around the globe. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being part of this critical conversation and continuing to move it forward into your classrooms and communities.

Believing that nothing happens in a vacuum or by accident, I also wanted to write this post to thank all the people who have personally supported me from the very beginning of my digital citizenship journey. I am indebted to numerous people for casting light on my journey and am so grateful to my PLN for graciously sharing their time, talent and passion with my students over the years.

For me, the making of the Digital Citizenship Summit happened long before our inaugural event last October at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut. In fact, my journey started years ago before I even had my first email address or mobile device. As a middle school teacher, I was always student-centered and focused on meeting the developmental needs of young adolescents. My interest in amplifying student voice has always been my True North and reason behind any and all decisions I’ve made during my educational career.

Although Tyler Clementi was the student who changed my perspective and inspired me to change my practice, he was never a student in my classroom.

I did not know Tyler, but his suicide made me determined to focus on a solution. Tyler Clementi could be my son, your son. He was a brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, friend, neighbor, and most importantly, a human being. This perspective launched me into uncharted territory. I am the mother of a son. What if this was my son? What can I do to make sure this doesn’t happen again? How can I make a difference?

In many ways, Tyler Clementi was the impetus behind my First Year Seminar course, Pleased to Tweet You: Are You a Socially Responsible Digital Citizen? My definition of digital citizenship is a direct result of the iCitizen Project which asks students to think and act at a local, global and digital level simultaneously. By 2011, I was tired of digital citizenship being an add-on to the curriculum, as well as edtech and bullying conferences. I knew digital citizenship needed its own space and that’s why I created and designed 3 credit courses specifically around the nine elements of digital citizenship at both the undergraduate and graduate level. In February 2012, I also planned and hosted my first livestreamed event, the iCitizenship Town Hall Meeting for both a live and virtual audience and just like the Digital Citizenship Summit, none of this would have been possible without the support of countless people.

As I reflect on the people who have supported me, I am reminded of just how many students and educators have virtually joined my digital citizenship courses and participated in the #digcit chat on Twitter over the years. Week after week, members of my PLN graciously shared their time, talent and passion with my students through Twitter, Skype and Google Hangout. I could seriously write a book on the entire experience, but for this blog post, I’ll share one of my favorite virtual guests, Jeremiah Anthony, a high school student from Iowa. Jeremiah Skyped and live tweeted, Stand Up & Speak Out with Digital Citizenship with my undergraduates. He demonstrated how it takes just one person to make a difference in your community both on and offline.

There have been so many people over the years who have been that one person to me and I just want to publicly thank anyone who has ever supported me through all my digital citizenship courses, projects, Twitter chats and conferences, including the iCitizenship Town Hall Meeting, Digital Citizenship Summit and the Digital Citizenship Summit UK. It has been a privilege and an honor to learn alongside a global network of students, educators, parents and the edtech industry as we collectively continue to solve problems and create solutions together.

So, from my middle school classroom in the early 90’s to my college campus in West Hartford to Bournemouth Univeristy in the UK to Twitter Headquarters — thank you, thank you for being part of this incredible journey.

My heart is full.

All It Takes Is One

Photo Credit, Mia Celik , TEDxYouthBHS

Photo Credit| Mia Celik | TEDxYouthBHS 2016

All it takes is one person to stand up, to make a difference, to be the change. Just one and before you know it, one becomes many. My son just recently stood up and shared his story with a global audience. At the age of nine he delivered his first TEDxYouth talk, My Wish: Digital Access for All Students Everywhere about the difference between how he learns at school and at home. Just one student standing up and speaking out about the need for digital access to be like air and water for all students.

Today, he made his wish become a reality and with permission from his third grade teacher, he invited connected educators, Derek Larson and Sarah Thomas to help him break down the classroom walls in his school. Today was the first time in four years that Curran had an opportunity to learn with digital access in school, not just at home. Today, one student became a classroom full of students who were eager and excited about this new way of learning.

It’s like skipping stones, one student becomes one classroom which becomes an entire school, which eventually includes the district and ultimately influences the community and once that happens, we have caused the most positive ripple effect.


A special thanks to Derek and Sarah for helping Curran introduce connected learning to his teacher and his classmates. These tweets say and capture it all:

As a mother, I am so happy that Curran has been authentically engaged through so many connected learning opportunities. But, as a connected educator, my heart breaks for the students who do not have digital access at home or at a school. As a mother/son #digcit team, we have made it our mission to continue to stand up and speak out until all students everywhere have access to learn about the world with the world.

We won’t stop until ONE becomes EVERYONE.

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