Jan 2018

Hey Alexa, Can You Help Kids Learn More?

The next technology that could disrupt the classroom

Kenneth Eastwood is thinking about the future. That’s how he frames his role as superintendent of the Enlarged City School District of Middletown, New York, delegating much of the day-to-day work of running a high-poverty turnaround district of 6,800 students to look ahead and concentrate on the big picture.

“My office is always planning for 5 to 10 years down the road,” he said. “We identify ideas, figure out their legitimacy by testing them, and if they work, then we find the money to implement them. It’s different from being buried in the today.”

On his mind a lot these days is the new technological habitat of children younger than five, who are surrounded by digital devices that can adapt to their specific needs and strengths. This next generation of students is growing up in a world not only where learning is ubiquitous, but also where talking to devices—asking them questions and giving them instructions—is commonplace.

That observation has generated a series of questions in Eastwood’s mind: What should a “voice-activated classroom” look like? How do we design it?


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