Tony Gurr

Will PokémonGO ‘Save’ Education – and ELT?

In ELT and ELL, News & Updates (from the CBO), Technology on 14/07/2016 at 7:50 am


As you might have guessed from my last (tongue-in-cheek) post, I’ve always had a healthy suspicion about blog posts that seem to jump on the latest bandwagon…or the next ‘big’ thing (esp. when that thing is technology-driven).

Sadly, even EDUcators fall for the pull towards the Dark Side:

Self-promotion (cartoon)

…adopting a Kardashian-esque approach to drawing people to their Social Media sites!


As I mentioned, Pokémon GO is taking the world by storm – the new Social Media ‘drug’ that has busynesses asking how they can best leverage it (for profit, of course)…and thousands of kids almost getting killed as they cross the road! 

Pokemon Dogs TG ver 130716

Those lovely chaps at Nintendo and Niantic are busy pushing the game with the very sexy tagline ‘The Game Is Only As Good As The Community’ – and seeing as though the second and last word of that tagline are currently all the GO with many a digital cheerleader in EDUcation, I thought I’d dig a round the web and blogosphere a wee bit and what we are saying about Pokémon GO in EDUcation!

See if I am right to be such a Doubting Thomas…by throwing a few rocks at the Internet!

Blogger (crap blog)

It was not long before one of my rocks ‘hit’ a website!


A ready-to-GO lesson plan (a 26-page lesson plan…with 40 exercises) from BREAKING NEWS (a website developed and maintained by Sean Banville).

I’d seen a few of Sean’s lessons before – and his site definitely lives up to it’s name! Pokémon GO is ‘big, breaking news’…

Now, I am not sure if Sean is an EDUmarketing genius or whether he just accidentally tripped over one of the greatest ways to keep his site on everyone’s Social Media lips (Facebook mostly) – all the stuff on his site is going to be driven by every single trending hashtag (as soon as he gets it out there)! Excellent – bloody genius!

I can see how many teachers would love this material…indeed there are loads of personal recommendations on his Facebook page. I found myself admiring the sheer amount of work he has churned out and got up on the web (he has a wide range of other sites) – I just have no bloody idea how he finds the time!

The problem is that… he is an Arsenal supporter!


No, shiriously – I just have a wee problem with seeing pages and pages of gap fill exercises, multiple choice questions, true / false reading items, and cloze tests…that I know (in my cynical, black, shrivelled heart) will just be printed up, blindly photocopied and used to breathe life the ‘twin sins’ we see all too often in ELL and ELT:

TWIN SINS TG ver 130716

To be fair, I would be very pushed to brand Sean as the type of Social Media Whore (SMW) we see on so many busyness sites – he is just doing what he says he does (on the lid)…and hands out materials that TEACHers can (and do) use in their classrooms. Further, he does throw in a good range of semi-communicative activities (I just hope these are not the activities that TEACHers ‘skip’ to ‘get through’ all the other more suitable ‘exam prep-esque’ activities) and he clearly knows his ‘ELT stuff’.


Come on…you had to have seen that coming!

I guess I’d just like to see more evidence of sites like this encouraging teachers to ‘thunk’ or ask themselves bigger questions:

ARE WE DOING WHAT IS BEST notepad 130716

…or helping ELTers get ‘out of the box’ a bit more.


I threw a few more rocks…

…and found the type of post I had assumed there would be thousands of!


14 Reasons Why Pokemon GO Is the Future of LEARNing (by David Theriault) drew on just about all my tactics to reach his audience (just gotta find an image of him wearing one of those hats)!

Or, so I though initially (do NOT read the last TWO paragraphs of this post)!


Come on…what self-respecting EDUdigitalcheerleader is going to ignore this wonderful listicle (OK – a list of ‘14’ is a bit awkward…but you gotta love the way he uses the phrase ‘Future of LEARNing’)!

What? I have done the same…SHUT UP!

Read on…

His post starts with the facts – kids love their Smartphones – and rolls smoothly into a ‘subtle challenge’ (to TEACHers). This he does just before making you feel a wee bit ‘guilty’ (if all you are doing is gap-filling and MCQs) by throwing the cornerstones of modern LEARNing at you: the creativity, sharing, community-building, movement, interactivity and virtual field trips enabled by EDtech Toys!

Many of you will probably cry out…

Hadi Ordan 130716 (1)

…but David’s post has got a lot of praise (and, more importantly, HITS)!


This is also true of the third post I discovered. Written by Lori Gracey and entitled Pokemon GO: What Education Should Be, I had to have a read of this one, too! After all, Lori got as many HITS as David (I wonder if they compared stats, at all).

Lori does a wonderful job of explaining how much better the Android / iOS app version is over the card game (my 5-year-old daughter used to drag my wife and I to a darkened, underground warehouse to buy these when we were in Dubai…scarier than the drive to Ajman or Ras Al Khaimah for our monthly XXXXX XXX…but that’s another story)!

CARDS to GO TG ver 130716 (1)

She admits that she is not really sure how Pokémon GO will help her meet her ‘vision’ – people coming together to have fun and solve problems – but she has a stab at a few decent suggestions…and it is the start of a pretty good vison!


The thing is…the ideas both she and David discuss in their posts are really quite ‘nice’ – BUT, even together, just did not convince me that Pokémon GO is the Future of LEARNing:

NEW and SHINY TG ver 130716

It certainly won’t ‘save’ us from many of the EDUwoes we face today!


That having been said their titles got our attention – and, even though these titles weren’t really the best lid for the tin,  I (for one) LEARNed some new stuff…and they got me THUNKing!

Thats a wrap

I was about to wrap things up when I came across a ‘not-PokemonGO-post’, you know, one of those posts that says it is NOT a XXXXXXXX post – from George Couros.

It was cleverly titled, too – ‘#PokemonGo, Being Observant, and Innovation’ (even had the hashtag embedded in the title…and the ‘gap’ removed – smart move, George)!

George plugged his new book (come on…who ain’t gonna do that?) but (more importantly) ended up making me feel a little guilty, too.

Why…you ask!

Well, I had been ‘bashing’ (albeit a wee bit tongue-in-cheek) people in the draft version of this post – and he reminded me that David (Lori and perhaps even Sean – though he did not mention them specifically) was “paying attention and being observant to our world” (mindful, perhaps)…and that these qualities are critical to innovation.

Thinkers wanted (blog ver 02 TG)

He was right, of course!  Isn’t that the very thing I was so nasty about when I had a go at Sean’s site and materials? Sorry, Sean…


What we are seeing with the mad rush to get Pokemon GO posts into the blogosphere (I hope) by EDUcators is not thinly-veiled attempts at shameless self-promotion (and ‘HITS’…as my initial free advice suggested) – but rather, in George’s words, they are a few initial ‘iterations’ of how we can make Pokemon GO ‘fit’ the vision we have for EDUcation.

In order to do that, we need to be very explicit about what that vision is – and keep asking questions of the latest BIG thing in EDtech

How does this EDtech TG ver 130716

8…and never forget:

Telling the TRUTH TG ver 130716


3 Evidence-Based Tactics To Increase Traffic To Your Social Media Sites…RIGHT NOW!

In News & Updates (from the CBO), Technology on 13/07/2016 at 7:08 pm

Pokemon Dogs TG ver 130716

Confused? You will be…


Pokémon GO is taking the world by storm (or maybe it’s just the stories that are cropping up about the players’ and their little adventures)!


This is a bandwagon you cannot miss out on…an opportunity to be ‘liked’, retweeted, poked, ‘favourited’ and even followed!


My FREE ‘marketing guru’ advice to you…exclusively for YOU is:

Pokemon Tactics TG ver 130716

OK – perhaps No. 04 should have read “Use a snappy listicle of 3, 5 or 10”! Problem was I could not find my cute little number 4 graphic…


Pokemon Brand Switich TG ver 130716

The hat idea ‘works’ – just see how many ‘likes’ I got in the first hour!




Want to Build a GREAT School? Follow These 10 Commandments…

In Educational Leadership, Our Schools, Our Universities, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness on 12/07/2016 at 9:39 pm

LEARNing Monkey (Abigail Adams quote TG ver)

This was the post that I planned to use to re-launch my bouts of bloggery this summer…


In the end I went with an ‘easier’ option…because it was so bloody difficult to plan, draft and finish! I started by reflecting on all the schools I had worked with this year…and all the ways I had tried to support their plans and initiatives (an ‘annual’ review, if you will).


It wasn’t enough! So…I went back 5 years (and almost every blog post I had ever written)…still didn’t quite cut it!

Blogging sucks (sign)

I found myself going back to the work of EDU Jedi Masters and their discussions of ‘what works in schools’…combining this with the THUNKS of those that helped me consider ‘what matters in schools’…and, reflecting on all the pearls of wisdom I had picked up from the school improvement, accreditation and institutional enhancement programmes I had worked on.

exploding head


That got me closer (but I had close to thirty pages of notes) – it was time for a procrastination pill!

Netflix Pill TG ver 100716

In the end, I decided to do a ‘career review’ – yes, reflect on the successes I had witnessed and LEARNed from, all my failures (because they helped me more than the successes I may have had and helped co-create) and all things I still have on my EDU Bucket Listafter over 30 years in the busyness of LEARNing.


The listicle of my ‘Magic 10’ Commandments started to take shape…but then the last episode of this year’s Game of Thrones forced me to binge-watch the earlier 50 episodes!

Procrastination (dice now never later)

What? I’m on holiday, too!


So…just to prove that all those quotes you can pull up (if you google ‘procrastination’) are hogwashhere you go:


If you want to build a GREAT school…


Thou Shalt ‘begin with the end in mind’ and ensure that your school is built on a focussed and clearly stated purpose – and make sure that all members of the school community understand, share and are committed to this purpose and the goals of the school…

Purpose CoP TG ver 100716


Thou Shalt believe in the transformative power of LEARNing, place LEARNing at the heart of your decision-making and walk-your-talk…

Change and Thinking TG ver 100716


Thou Shalt recruit the best TEACHers you can, retain them (at all costs) and renew their talents, skills and knowledge at every opportunity you find…

Good School (quote) TG ver 100716


Thou Shalt plan, implement and renew a curriculum / assessment framework that emphasises LEARNing the ‘right’ things in the ‘right’ way…

Delivering LEARNing TG ver 100716


Thou Shalt provide caring and effective leadership, create the conditions for wider shared-, teacher-, and student-leadership – and evaluate the quality of this leadership in terms of the level of trust you build and the amount of LEARNing co-created across the school…

Leadership TG ver 100716


Thou Shalt create an environment and climate that is organised, secure and safe – yet provides for risk-taking, creativity and imagineering at the student, classroom, departmental and school level…

Success TG ver 100716


Thou Shalt create a culture that is driven by professionalism, collaboration, and stakeholder involvement – and is fuelled by an ethos of feedback, improvement and results… Leader Shadow TG ver 100716


Thou Shalt build and maintain a classroom-focussed LEARNing culture grounded on high expectations for both students and TEACHers, dialogic TEACHing practices and an approach to the adoption of EdTech driven by ‘fitness-for-purpose’ and ‘LEARNing first, TECHnology second’… 


Learning WoG TG ver 100716


Thou Shalt adopt a research and evidence-based approach to change and planning – and balance the use of external best practices and internal research findings, as well as ‘big’ and ‘small data’…

EBP TG ver 100716 


Thou Shalt use a range of policies, processes, and practices designed to evaluate and enhance the quality of decision-making, curriculum and assessment systems, classroom teaching, professional learning communities, allocation of resources, and stakeholder involvement across the school…

Quality TG ver 100716


That’s 10, right?


As I was boiling all the Commandments down, I did ask myself whether I need to ‘spell them out’ more. I hope they are clear…as I hinted, they are all backed by solid research and evidence-based practice (EBP) – but I have seen them ‘work’ and know they ‘matter’!


Can I rank them – in terms of importance or priority? Not really – but I’d be interested to see how you might…or (even more) see if you would add any others…