Alexa goes to school
Book a cab, call a friend, find the latest cricket score, play your favourite song. Alexa allows all this and more with just a simple voice command. But a school teacher in Warud, Maharashtra is using Alexa in a rather unique manner – to impart lessons to students beyond the traditional curriculum.
Game changer in education
Amol Bhuyar, a schoolteacher, realised early on that Alexa could be a game changer for education and the overall scope of learning it presented. According to him, internet-based learning was a privilege for kids in Tier 1 cities who had an easy access to good bandwidth. But Mr Bhuyar knew Alexa could change all of that. All he needed was to get creative in this pursuit.
First, he invested in an Amazon Echo device. However, in order for his students to relate better to Alexa, Mr Bhuyar covered the device in the form of a robot, which looked like an actual human being. This was inspired by Sophia, the first robot to get Saudi Arabia citizenship in 2017. He roped in the school headmistress Ms Sushma Kapase and they each contributed INR 5000 to build a mannequin around Echo. Armed with a power bank, a mannequin, an Echo smart speaker, and a mobile hotspot in the absence of wireless Internet infrastructure, Amol was now ready to debut Alexa into the classroom.
Their learning process has become so much more interactive than before and they are learning a lot more than whatever is in the books – all on their own accord
Kids get curious
Mr Bhuyar knew he was on to something but nothing prepared him for the wildly enthusiastic response from his students for Alexa. The moment Alexa started to answer questions; students were completely taken aback by the speed and clarity of her responses. He knew that he was tapping into an ocean of curiosity and Ms Sushma was equally delighted.
Alexa understands only English, thus making the school’s highly engaged students more fluent in the language. Throughout the day, students ask Alexa questions on History, Geography, Sports, Science, General Knowledge and more. “Their learning process has become so much more interactive than before and they are learning a lot more than whatever is in the books – all on their own accord. Parents too are thrilled at this learning innovation that was unknown and unheard of in our small town,” says Mr Bhuyar.