You certainly wouldn't want employees spending time during the work day trying to find Pikachu in the break room, but the game's popularity can provide insights into the future of workplace learning and development.
Last week, comScore, a research firm that measures Internet usage and statistics, released some interesting though not surprising findings: smartphone and tablet applications now account for nearly 60 percent of the time U.S. users spend online.
ComScore also ranked the top 15 mobile apps by unique visitors. Pokémon GO came in at number 13, ahead of Snapchat and Pinterest.
While clearly a consumer app, the intense level of engagement and participation has become the envy of marketers, designers, and technology professionals who continually seek the 'killer app.'
Can the Pokémon GO phenomenon help the learning and development function as well?
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Pokémon GO is a game, and learning and development initiatives, as we all know, are not a game. However, in efforts to increase participation and engagement in training initatives, gamification has become an increasingly important technique to ignite a competitive spirit and sense of accomplishment on the part of employees.
This blog has explored gamification in the past. An industry buzzword for several years, gamification only goes so far; if employees feel like the metrics or rewards are silly, they will not participate. However, in the right setting and with the right participation levels, gamifying training or goal setting can invigorate the workplace.
Here's what L&D professionals can take away from Pokémon GO:
People aren't afraid to get up and move.
Much of the excitement about the game is that you have to leave your home to play -- what a concept! So much for apps and games forcing people to be immobile and inactive. When designing learning activities, try to incorporate non-traditional surroundings, or elements that require people to leave their existing workspace. Even if the training is conducted digitally on a device, without a live instructor in a classroom, this out-of-office experience will please employees and certainly make the training much more memorable, leading to higher retention.
Exploring, searching and discovery are fun.
Pokémon GO is essentially a scavenger hunt, and as has been shown, people enjoy the thrill of the unexpected. You can build this exploring component into your existing training, for perhaps the testing and assessment components. Instead of giving multiple-choice questions, you can provide texts, presentations, code samples, or other content, and explain what the learner needs to find hidden in that content in order to receive credit for that module.
Augmented reality is soon to be a reality.
You may not have the budget to build your own augmented reality application, but this technology is certainly on the horizon. Keep tabs on this growing space to see what technologies can be made available -- and at what cost -- for users in smaller, corporate settings. (Pokémon GO had over 54 million unique visitors in July 2016, according to comScore.)
The consumer app marketplace provides a never-ending stream of exciting, new technologies which at some point, can make their way into the workplace. Augmented reality games are no exception.