For most of our students, it’s hard to imagine communicating without email or text message. The number of ways our students learn, share, and communicate has grown exponentially in the last few years. Each generation has sought to make the transfer of information faster and more efficient than the generation before them, but the world today is changing at a faster and more immediate pace than at any time in our history.
New technologies like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Expeditions and Pioneer programs will be the next generation’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Voice technology allows for screen-free interactions and gives students much-needed life-skills practice in the areas of forming questions and focused listening. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) enables students to learn by doing, which increases student engagement, helps with retention, and enhances learning outcomes.
The power of Artificial intelligence (AI)
AI-powered, voice-controlled digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa have made their way into millions of living rooms but are just now being used in some classrooms. Unfortunately, a steady supply of misinformation and misunderstanding in the news media has made school leaders turn their backs on what may be the most cost-effective classroom technology of the last half-century.
A digital assistant can transform the classroom with real-time answers and built-in skills. A cohort of 31 Garnet Valley (PA) School District teachers has begun to leverage Amazon’s Alexa as a learning aid for lessons and student activities. Our district’s recent partnership with Dr. Aparna Ramanathan and her husband, Deepak Ramanathan, and their Alexa Skill called askMyClass has provided a bridge into this new educational frontier. Aparna is a medical doctor with over 11 years of international clinical experience and a passion for family health and well being. Deepak is an engineer and marketing executive in the technology industry, having worked for over 20 years at IBM, Google, and, most recently, Twitter.
Dr. Ramanathan initially developed the Amazon skill tool to help young children with emotional regulation skills but has expanded the tool to help teachers with other classroom needs. Their mission is to give teachers the convenience of voice technology to support their productivity and maximize learning for students in a new and engaging way.