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The use of Alexa for mass education

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Presentation at EDIL conference 2020, Amsterdam

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The use of Alexa for mass education

  1. 1. Educational Technology, TU Graz S C I E N C E ■ P A S S I O N ■ T E C H N O L O G Y ! www.tugraz.at „We care about education“ 1 The use of Alexa for mass education Peter Schoegler, Markus Ebner and Martin Ebner EdMedia Online, June 23-26, 2020
  2. 2. 2 Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ Current situation • Personalised learning is very hard in mass education • Hard to recognise weaknesses in early stages • New technologies have to be tested
  3. 3. 3 Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ Research Questions (RQ) 1. Is the Alexa speech-assistant technology suitable for conversations with children? 2. Are children able to follow instructions given by Alexa? 3. How to create a gamification based learning environment with an Alexa Skill? 4. Is it possible to enable Learning Analytics with the Alexa Skill and the TU Graz Maths Trainer?
  4. 4. 4 Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ Outline of the presentation 1. Introduction • Learning Mathematics • Digital Game-Based Learning • Education Game Design 2. The Alexa Maths Skill “Mathekuchen” • Idea • Story and Gamification • Game Flow • System Architecture 3. Research Study
  5. 5. S C I E N C E ■ P A S S I O N ■ T E C H N O L O G Y 5 ! www.tugraz.at Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ 1. Introduction
  6. 6. 7 Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ Learning Mathematics • A healthy understanding for numbers and logical relationships is crucial in a child’s education process • First interaction often starts in childhood by e.g. counting the stairs when going to bed • Connecting simple games with mathematical problems linked to everyday questions is always the first approach • Experience, Understanding and Repetition is key
  7. 7. 8 Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ Digital Game Based Learning • Children are surrounded by mobile devices and games since they can think • Games provide a very powerful and effective learning environment • Include elements of urgency and complexity • Trial-and-Error principle • Provide immediate feedback • Adopt to the level of the player • Allow players to make use of learnings from previous quests • Can be played everywhere at every time • Why not merge the content of learning and the motivation of games?
  8. 8. 9 Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ Educational Game Design • Having fun is the key aspect in game design • Storytelling • The need for a story is directly proportional to the complexity of the game • Focus on Gameplay • one or more casually linked stories of challenges which keeps the player motivated and engaged • Avoid Cognitive Overload • Working memory limits the amount of information that can be processed in our brain • Focus on important content • Response with feedback
  9. 9. S C I E N C E ■ P A S S I O N ■ T E C H N O L O G Y 10 ! www.tugraz.at Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ 2. TheAlexa Skill “Mathekuchen”
  10. 10. 11 Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ Idea • Smart Speakers and Voice-Assistance technologies became very popular and helpful • Create an attractive, new technology based learning environment for children • Implement an Educational Game to increase the maths skills with AmazonAlexa • Provide personalised content • Provide Learning Analytics
  11. 11. 12 Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ Story and Gamification • Goal: Increase the children’s maths skills in the number series of the multiplication table in a very exciting and playful way • Calculating the correct amount of ingredients to successfully bake a cake together • Give motivating feedback and repeat the question if the answer was wrong
  12. 12. 13 Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ Game Flow (1) • Starting the Skill with the words “Alexa, starte Mathekuchen” • 7 multiplication tasks • Basic Version • Extended Version • (Integration of the TU Graz 1x1 Trainer)
  13. 13. 14 Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ Game Flow (2) - Basic Version • Alexa welcomes the player, introduces the game and directly starts with the first calculation task • “Als erstes brauchen wir 3 mal 2 Gramm Butter. Wie viel ist 3 mal 2? • For the answer, there is a set of expected phrases • Just the number of the result {NumberResult} • “Ich glaube es ist {NumberResult}” • “{FirstNumber} mal {SecondNumber} ist {NumberResult}” • “Hmm {NumberResult}” • Alexa motivates the player after giving the correct answer • Repeats the question if the answer is wrong • Repeats the question if answer could not be matched or no answer was given in a specific timeframe
  14. 14. 15 Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ Game Flow (3) - Extended Version • Connecting the Skill with the TU Graz Learning-Lab- platform • Therefore, a user has to be registered initially on platform • Fetch a user’s id by the given username via the SOAPAPI • Extending the Alexa Interface Scheme to just spell the username • GET answers and POST questions is then done with the user id of the e-learning user • Learning Analytics is enabled
  15. 15. 16 Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ System Architecture (1)
  16. 16. 17 Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ System Architecture (2) • Skill installed on Amazon Echo • Alexa Skill Kit parses input speech and matches against interaction model • Trigger event in Lambda function • Establish connection to DynamoDB and the e-learning server • Handle the event • Respond according to the defined logic in the lambda function
  17. 17. S C I E N C E ■ P A S S I O N ■ T E C H N O L O G Y 18 ! www.tugraz.at Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ 3. Research Study
  18. 18. 19 Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ Research Study (1) • Two research studies were conducted • First: TU Graz Maker Days (First Field Test) • Focus on technological limitations • Second: Field Study in a primary school in Graz • Focus on the gameplay and engagement
  19. 19. 20 Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ Research Study (2) - First Study • 12 children aged 6 to 13 • 92 questions were answered • Only 4 questions answered incorrect • Conclusion • Children loved to talk to Alexa and to play the game • Problems with unstable internet connection • Too many ambient noises • Misunderstanding of the number 9 and the German word “Nein”
  20. 20. 21 Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ Research Study (3) - Second Study • Optimised Skill based on the insights of the first field test • Placed the Amazon Echo in a classroom • 4 children were in the room, while 2 children played the game together • 12 children aged 9-10 answered 122 questions
  21. 21. 22 Research Study (4) - Feedback • After the session, children were asked to tell us what they liked and disliked • Additionally they were asked to rate some statements of a feedback sheet with 5 different smiley faces • It was easy for me to start the game and follow the instructions • I liked it to calculate the ingredients of the cake with Alexa • The questions were easy to answer • I would like to play the game at home again • Rating Smileys Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“
  22. 22. 23 Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ Research Questions (1) 1. Is the Alexa speech-assistant technology suitable for conversations with children? Yes! The results of the field studies show that it’s easy and understandable for children in the age of 6-13 to interact with Alexa 2. Are children able to follow instructions given by Alexa? After some optimisations, all of the children could follow the instructions and calculation tasks
  23. 23. 24 Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ Research Questions (2) 3. How to create a gamification based learning environment with an Alexa Skill? • Create a story and combine it with personalised learning content • Dynamically adjust the complexity of the game to the skills of the player • Make it easy and fun to use 4. Is it possible to enable Learning Analytics with the Alexa Skill and theTU Graz 1x1 Trainer? Yes! Making use of the DynamoDB to store data persistently enables the integration of a mapping table to match the amazon user with the account
  24. 24. S C I E N C E ■ P A S S I O N ■ T E C H N O L O G Y 25 www.tugraz.at Educational Technology, TU Graz „We care about education“ Thank you for your attention

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