Amazon and National Association of the Blind UP (NAB) have come together to introduce Echo smart speakers in over 100 schools so that students can benefit from an interactive learning experience with the Alexa voice service. More than 34,000 students, with and without disabilities, from schools and Bachpan day care centres where the NAB state branch runs its inclusive education program will benefit from this initiative.Students with Alexa enabled Amazon Echo speaker“By having Alexa in classrooms, teachers have noticed a substantial increase in attendance in the classroom, habit of actively asking questions, confidence in young students and a significant improvement in spoken English.” says SK Singh, Managing Trustee, National Association of Blind UP Head, “Alexa is of great help when it comes to setting reminders for classes, keeping the children occupied and making learning more fun and interactive. The simplicity of voice interactions with Alexa to ask for information and to get things done has proven to be of more assistance for people with mobility and vision disabilities. This collaboration has opened up many avenues for equal and inclusive education and we look forward to more fruitful results in the future.”Earlier this year, Amazon as part of Alexa community programs and Alexa teams worked with the NAB state branch to introduce Amazon Echo smart speakers as a teaching aid for educators in three districts of Uttar Pradesh–Lucknow, Gorakhpur, and Basti. Amazon donated Echo smart speakers in 10 schools and Bachpan day care centres, reaching more than 2,000 students. This includes a mix of children with and without disabilities, under 10 years. The Alexa team also trained 10 master facilitators from NAB, who further helped the teachers across schools to include Alexa in their day-to-day teaching.“NAB’s proactiveness to pilot the Alexa program in their network of schools is very encouraging. We are glad to be a part of their inclusive education programme and make learning more fun and engaging for children”, says Dilip R.S., Country Manager for Alexa, Amazon India. “Alexa has a number of resources and features that make it a useful aid to support learning. The simplicity of just asking for information makes it very easy to use”.
During the pilot, it was observed that children enjoyed learning with Alexa and using voice commands to ask questions from general knowledge to mathematics, science, history, spellings, meaning of words, interactive skills to learn English and so on. The educators also used features like quizzes, timers, and reminders to make studies more engaging for children. In addition to having a dedicated space in the school first students to interact with Alexa, NAB teachers also used Echo smart speakers when providing home-based services to children having multi disability including blindness.
Over the next few months, the NAB state branch will continue to work with schools and Bachpan day care centres where they runs an inclusive education program to introduce students to Alexa and benefit from its features to improve their learning outcomes.