Alexa in Education with Aparna and Deepak Ramanathan

Tue Oct 16 2018 (32:05)

In this episode, Teri welcomes Deepak and Dr. Aparna Ramanathan, co-founders of Ask My Class. Ask My Class is a company that produces Alexa skills for education, and helps teachers, parents and kids thrive through the use of Amazon Echos in the classroom. If you have an interest in education and voice-first technology, this episode is for you!

Dr. Aparna Ramanathan is a critical care medical doctor from Australia. When she moved to the United States, she changed her focus to child health and well being. She saw voice technology as a way to help with emotional regulation in children at home and in the classroom.

Deepak Ramanathan is in engineering, and has had product and marketing roles at Google. He has also spent time on education teams within Google.

Key points from Aparna and Deepak Ramanathan about Education and Voice-First Tech

  • Aparna likes that there is a way for children to use technology that is screen-free.
  • Voice is a very natural form of interaction for children.

Ask My Class

  • Ask My Class is an Alexa skill that provides teachers on-tap, easily accessible prompts and activities wherever they are in the classroom.
  • It is available in Canada!
  • Teachers view the Amazon Echo device as an extra set of hands in the classroom.
  • The Ask My Class skill is a communal experience that students can share.
  • The skill was piloted last year in elementary classrooms. This year there is a pilot focusing on early learning.
  • There are an estimated 10000-15000 Echos in classrooms currently.
  • Echos are introduced by teachers to their classes similar to the way iPads or computers are introduced, with specific rules and policies about how students are allowed to use the devices.
  • Some activities help students to learn emotional regulation techniques.
  • There has been good feedback from teachers that Alexa helps to develop teamwork and social skills.
  • The Alexa skill can be customized with class lists, morning briefings, quizzes, and other features.
  • A web application can be used by the teacher that can setup the skill to his/her liking. This can also be shared with other teachers/classes.
  • Ask My Class helps teachers to build engaging, exciting learning environments in the classroom in a way that is easy, accessible and communal.
  • Future plans are to add scheduling features and to further develop the abilities to share features with other teachers.
  • Amazon Echo devices are ideally placed to help with learning languages in the classroom; there are plans to include this in the future as well.
  • Education and voice technology is a very exciting space.

List of resources mentioned in this episode: