Smart Speakers in Schools: Yay or Nay?

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smart speakers in school

Smart home speakers are most often talked about as being part of private households, but what if we start using them in public spaces, like schools? Smart speakers in school…what would the benefits be, and would they be worth the associated risks?

Digital assistants are all the rage when it comes to the newest, household scalable technology. Homes with children have started to use these speakers, and, as is typical with smarthomes and tablets, the children have been notoriously quick at adapting to the new technology.

If children are used to using these speakers in their homes, is there a benefit to using them in schools as well?

There are two areas here that I think are worth discussing: education and safety.

Education

Teachers could use smart speakers to help enhance lessons and engage students. With a simple voice command, pieces of classical music could be played, games can be started, facts can be checked. As this technology is becoming more and more present in everyday life, using speakers in a learning environment can even help prepare students for the world after school, and might even spark their interest in technology.

Safety

This is a touchy, but relevant topic. It is a sad fact, but mass school shootings are still happening – at an alarming rate. Safety needs to be a constantly-discussed issued and new methods need to continue to emerge and evolve. Smart speakers – or honestly just smart products in general – could help schools and teachers keep their classrooms safe. In an emergency, a smart speaker could be used to lock classroom doors and turn off classroom lights – while hiding in a safe spot. Classrooms could “go dark” and become secure in an instant, and no one would need to get close to the door at all.  If an app was created, the speaker could even be used to alert emergency personnel of an incident, and could be triggered to record noise inside the school. This could help first responders locate victims and culprits. It could also be evaluated post-emergency. This is of course not an infallible option, as it would require using your voice which would cause noise inside in the classroom. It also means having to install additional smart products – like locks and lights – that would work with the smart speaker.

However…

I completely see how anyone could argue that smart speakers in classrooms could be disruptive. Since they do not use voice recognition, any student could activate a smart speaker at any time. You could even argue that children won’t understand the difference in etiquette needed when using the speaker at home versus using it in public. The use of smart speakers in classrooms could also derail development. If kids are using this speaker that answers to their every whim, will they have a more difficult time developing socially and understanding the difference between dealing with people – who have free will – and artificial intelligence – which does not have free will? While that could be a lesson, it could also teach a dangerous precedent.

So what are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments! And if you’re looking to see how else kids can use smart technology then check out Using Smart Homes To Enhance Storytime, Playtime and Nap Time.

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