For many teachers, edtech translates to visuals and video. But during the edWebinar “Voice Devices and Beyond in the Classroom,” the presenters made the case for using voice technology in schools to assist with all types of activities, from practicing math to classroom management–and more important, to improve listening comprehension skills.
Learning is evolving on several fronts with regards to technology. First, educators recognize that students are moving beyond just acquiring information to gaining knowledge, where they’ve absorbed information and can put it into practice. In addition, most teachers acknowledge and use a multisensory approach to learning, providing materials for students to fit their learning style.
Voice-activated devices are part of a newer group of tech called immersive learning. According to the presenters from Moonshot by Pactera, “immersive learning takes the learner to the most realistic learning situations without the constraints of reality providing the ability to gain information and utilize information in the best way for them.”
Immersive tech, like AR, VR, and Voice AI offers students three main benefits.
1. They increase visual and audio learning comprehension skills, asking the learner to use a variety of input to gather information.
2. They inspire curiosity and creativity. Since the students need to interact with the technology, they are required to come up with questions and actions to discover new information, rather than just reading about it or being lectured.
3. They develop empathy and experience building skills. Students are able to explore a problem, often interacting with a variety of characters or situations, and learn to see these situations from multiple points of view.
Voice-actived technology has the additional benefit of being more readily available outside the classroom. Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri are just three examples of voice technology that students may encounter at home or elsewhere outside of the school. They are typically comfortable with using the tech, lowering the barrier for use in the classroom.
Moreover, voice-related activities vary more than AR and VR. David Green, a teacher at North Shore Country Day School, explained various voice-activated activities he’s seen and used in the classroom:
● Mathematics: Students can ask computation questions, practice skip counting, or roll a virtual die or flip a virtual coin for probability lessons.
● Language arts: Students may use the device to get definitions, spell words, or get synonyms and antonyms during writing exercises.
● General use: Voice devices make a great research tool. They can also give the time, weather, news, etc.
● Classroom management: Green has used his device to play music during appropriate times, set classroom reminders, and provide a countdown, e.g., books away in 30.
He’s also found several audio curricula and sources for great classroom projects, including:
● Listenwise: Curated stories in ELA, science, and social studies with accompanying lessons.
● Public Radio Exchange: Curated lists of news stories.
● National Public Radio (NPR): News stories and podcasts. Wow in the World is specifically for kids.
There are also thousands of podcasts that educators can use for their audio and listening comprehension lessons. Green said the key is to teach students how to be active listeners. The teacher needs to have a specific reason and educational goal for the kids to listen to something because the kids need to listen with a purpose in mind.
Finally, teachers need to make sure devices like Alexa don’t become a crutch. In Green’s class, outside of audio lessons, students need to ask permission to use Alexa just like they have to ask to use the bathroom. He doesn’t want them to skip talking with their peers–voice activated devices are there to support, not supplant.
About the presenters
Mark Persaud’s experience has led him to the junction of experiences, technology, and business strategy which when applied correctly creates revolutionary Digital Products. His experience has included evaluating business’ operating and organization structures, designing business models and strategies, and implementing the right platforms for all to be successful. His platform experience varies widely from e-commerce, to content management, OMS, ERP, and search, yet at the center of all his experiences has been an anthropocentric philosophy to ensure that the value proposition for his client is tethered to a strong understanding of their users and the value-creating opportunity they have.
Amish Desai’s expertise is in the strategy and delivery of digital experiences for people, products, and clients. He leads cross-functional teams across product, design, and engineering that use design thinking and lean innovation to discover, design, and deliver experiences that are lovable, valuable, and feasible for brands. With 16 years of designing at the intersection of customer behaviors, emotions, and emerging technologies, Amish possesses expertise to solve critical business challenges with a human-first mindset. His experience spans environments such as start-ups, in-house, and innovation consultancy firms. He has supporting B2C, B2B, B2B2C organizations on a domestic and global scale, across a range of industries, including financial services, insurance, social analytics, CPG, logistics, and retail. As a result, his work has been featured in CMO.com, Fast Company, and VentureBeat for designing digital and physical experiences for business growth.
For the past 25 years, David Green has taught third grade at North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka, IL. He has also taught a variety of classes at Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development summer program for the past 17 years. Fifteen years ago, David created Third Grade Audio. His students have written and recorded audio documentaries, podcasts, stories, and poetry. Their work has been played on radio stations around the country and in Germany and the U.K. It has also been featured on podcasts and on Chicago Public Radio. David has presented at the National Education Computing Conference (NECC) and Illinois Council of Teachers of Math Conference (ICTM). He has published articles in the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) journal Teaching Children Mathematics and on the online Math Solutions website. David was awarded a grant to create a two-week poetry festival at his school and was a finalist for the Kohl McCormick Early Childhood Teaching Award.
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Ignite Digital Learning is a free professional learning community on edWeb.net where educators, librarians, and administrators can explore strategies and tactics for getting every child to be a better thinker, better reader, and better writer through the use of digital resources.