“Alexa, tell me about using a virtual assistant in the classroom”
Abstract: “Welcome to the future. In front of you, a small device enabled with artificial intelligence (AI) can serve as your virtual assistant. To use it, simply speak the wake word followed by a command to activate a task. Its possibilities for use in the classroom depend on your imagination. Do you want to set a timer? Do you want to look up a fact? Do you want to play a recording of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony?” “Alexa, cancel.” Rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and relative affordability of AI-enabled devices, such as Amazon’s Echo, translate into a new challenge for schools. Whether intended by the manufacturer or not, educators are bringing these smart speakers into the classroom. The UI Echo Project sought purposefully to integrate Echo Dots into four school districts in rural Idaho. One of the goals of this project included synthesizing how teachers and administrators used the device to provide insight into subject- and task-specific for guiding further integration as well as professional development. Brief composite experiences from a variety of teacher perspectives are explored along with specific recommendations related to challenges encountered as well as opportunities for expanded use and research.
Presider: Alona Forkosh Baruch, Levinsky College of Education, Tel Aviv University