Good Morning Alexa: Students of Maharashtra village are taught by Amazon's virtual assistant

TOI Online

  • Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa has become popular among the rural population in India.
  • Amravati Municipal Corporation’s(AMC) Warud School in Maharashtra has been using Alexa to teach its students.
  • The ed-tech startup Learning Matters also introduced its own Alexa named ‘Tara’ for school education in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa has become popular amongst rural kids after it upgraded its software, with an Indian accent.

Now, the students at Amravati Municipal Corporation’s (AMC) Warud School in Maharashtra ask her questions across topics, and she spontaneously answers them. She joins them in reciting poems, and takes part in other vocal activities.

What’s more? They can even see her. The school has a mannequin for Alexa dressed in jeans and sweaters, wearing glasses.

No more scolding

Alexa like no other human teacher will repeat as many times a student wants, as they can learn without fear of judgment. And guess what, Alexa doesn’t scold them.

“Most of our students are from nearby slum areas, and they have been excited that a robot is in their classroom,” a faculty member Pooja Sankhe, who was accorded with National Innovation Award told The Times of India.

Adopted from the idea of ‘Sophia,’ world’s first AI robot with citizenship, the move helped students brush up their vocabulary, thereby reducing dependence on Internet.

Virtual education

Alexa can be a powerful teaching tool to reinforce the low number of teachers in rural areas.

Ed-tech startup Learning Matters also introduced its own Alexa named ‘Tara’ for schools in the state of Tamil Nadu. “The goal isn’t to replace a teacher, but provide a resource to help teachers,” said Gowri Mahesh, Co-Founder of Learning Matters.

Online learning platforms like Byju’s have been using digital assistants to create educational content. To bring younger children into its fold, the Early Learn app rolled out by the startup unicorn features characters from Disney brands like — Toy Story, Cars and Frozen among others — for a blended learning experience.

Indian consumers have been increasingly using voice assistants. A third of the online population in India is considering to have a smart speaker device this year, according to a survey from Accenture.

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Byju's will now teach kids using Disney characters from Frozen and Cars