Here are three trends to look for in 2022:
1. AI in Digital Assistants Helps K–12 Teachers Manage Classrooms
“Alexa, read us a story.”
That’s one way teachers are using digital assistants, such as the popular Amazon Echo device — technology that many parents of home-bound students used last year to aid in their children’s educational routines — in the classroom.
One school district in California has integrated this technology even further with the Symphony Classroom device from Merlyn Mind, described as the world’s first digital assistant for education. The device is powered by Edge AI, combining artificial intelligence with edge computing technology.
It’s a way of getting technology to kids where they’re at and when they need it, says Brian Fish, an English teacher at Rancho Verde High School in California.
“Nothing can replace a teacher. However, technology can expand teaching,” Fish says.
Elsewhere in the Val Verde Unified School District, first grade teacher Jennifer Thornton says it comes in handy in her classroom because she’s never at her desk for very long. Through voice commands, Merlyn — the name given to the AI — can navigate tabs on Thornton’s computer and play or pause a YouTube video for a lesson, for example.
“It’s helped a lot with the classroom management,” she says.
Darren Crist, an elementary special education teacher in the district, also uses it for videos in his classroom. But Merlyn’s best feature, at least for Crist’s students, is its visual timer, which helps them with time management and more.
Crist also assigns students to be in charge of Merlyn as a classroom job, which helps them develop life skills.
“As a special ed teacher I’m focused a lot on, not just the normal standards of academics, but making sure that my kids are able to get some of that executive functioning they might be lacking,” he says.