Artificial Intelligence in Education Technology
According to the EDUCAUSE 2020 Horizon Report, Artificial Intelligence's use in elearning is on the rise. The report cites several examples of new Artificial intelligence (AI) integration into educational technology, such as providing grading feedback, virtual teaching assistants, refining language translation, and access improvment for learners with hearing or visual impairments. Perhaps the most familiar use of AI technology's incorporation into learning, however, is with the AI assistant that most of us are already know: Amazon's Alexa. Amazon's Developer site describes Alexa's foray into education technology, known as Alexa.Education as "A set of interfaces that enable you to build education skills for your learning management system, student information system, or classroom management app. By using your education skill, your users can get information about their or their children's recent grades, upcoming assignments, school communications, and more" (Developer.Amazon, 2020).
The tool, which launched in Fall of 2019, is now starting to be integrated into several enterprise Learning Management Systems (LMS's) such as Blackboard and Canvas. Instructure, Canvas's parent company, will be integrating the Alexa voice technology into their "Parent" and "Student" apps for parents and students to receive reminders and information about upcoming and completed school work.
Some use/voice command examples with Alexa.Education Api interfaces include:
Alexa, what do I have due tomorrow?
Alexa, what does Hannah have due next week?
Alexa, do I have any chemistry homework?
Alexa, what are my grades?
Alexa, how are the kids doing in school?
Alexa, what did Hannah do in school today?
Alexa, are there any posts from my professors?
Users can even set pre-set reminders about coursework and due dates. The Developer.Amazon site (2020) illustrates the following example of how Alexa.education integrates with Alexa's voice reminders:
User: Alexa, what assignments are due this week?
Alexa (data from your skill): Michelle has two assignments due Thursday. In French 3, Worksheet 6 and in Algebra Concepts, Problem Set 3.
Alexa (automatically): Do you want me to send you a reminder one day before these assignments are due?
Alexa: OK, I’ll remind you Wednesday about these assignments.
As a college instructor, I find the new Alexa.Education technology amazing. If only each of my students could integrate this easily into our LMS, Canvas! A search through the list of apps that are integrated into our college-level Canvas LMS showed that the Alexa Education is not yet a fully integrated "App" within the Canvas site. Perhaps the technology is still being beta-tested by various academic partner institutions and school districts. However, when it does become commonplace and part of the Canvas external tools ecosystem, I envision greater student engagement and self-efficacy in online learning - as well as happier parents.
Brown, M., McCormack, M., Reeves, J., Christopher, D.B., Grajek, S. (2020). 2020 EDUCAUSE Horizon Report, Teaching and Learning Edition . EDUCAUSE, Louisville, CO.
Amazon Alexa (n.d.). About Alexa Education Skills. https://developer.amazon.com/en- US/docs/alexa/education/about- education-skills.html.
Hacienda - La Puente School District - TECH (2020, September 12). Engaging our Students: Canvas Skill for Alexa. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2z0KFoCBJLY