Tips for getting started with Alexa in the Classroom

            Table of Contents

            How do I set up my Amazon Echo? 1

            Why do you recommend buying an Echo remote? 2

            Is there an alternative to buying an Echo speaker? 2

            How do I introduce Alexa as a tool for my students? 3

            Do you have an easy way to remember the Alexa Commands? 5

            How can I improve how Alexa responds? 5

            Can I change “Alexa” to a different wake word? 5

            Can I keep Alexa “open” for the next command? 5

            How do I stop Alexa? 6

            How do I delete voice recordings? 6

            What controls do I have? 6

            What is AskMyClass and how can I try it? 7

            What information can I share with parents and administrators? 8


            How do I set up my Amazon Echo?

             

            Setup

            Follow the directions here for the Echo and here for the Echo Dot.

            We recommend using the Alexa app on a smartphone to set up your Echo (it’s easier).

            Your school IT department will need to allow the Echo to connect to the school wi-fi. The connection isn’t stable over a hotspot.

             

            Settings

            Turn off Voice purchasing

            Open the Menu (top left) > Settings > Alexa Account > select Voice Purchasing > turn off “Purchase by Voice”


            Turn on Explicit Filter for Music

            Open the Menu (top left) > Settings > under Alexa Preferences, select Music > under Account Settings, select Explicit Filter > turn on Explicit Filter

             

            Here are other optional classroom-ready settings for the Echo.

             

            Practice these phrases:

            Alexa, what is the weather?

            Alexa, flip a coin.

            Alexa, sing Happy Birthday.

            Alexa, sing a song.

            Why do you recommend buying an Echo remote?

            An Echo remote can be a game-changer for voice technology in the classroom because:

            1. The Echo speaker can stay on mute (meaning it can’t be activated by calling out “Alexa”), but you can still use Alexa by pressing the button and speaking into the remote, even in a soft voice.

            2. Using a remote virtually eliminates background noise.

            3. It can be a teacher-only tool in classrooms where students don’t have permission to use the Echo.

            Many teachers successfully use the Echo without a remote, but if you have the budget to spare (usually around $20-30), it’s a worthwhile investment.

            Is there an alternative to buying an Echo speaker?

            Yes! You can use AskMyClass on any Bluetooth speaker that you already have in your classroom, which may include the wall/ceiling speakers.


            Advantages

            • No need to buy an Echo device

            • Your smartphone acts like an Alexa remote, which helps protect student privacy

             

            On your smartphone:

            1. In your phone settings, pair your smartphone with the Bluetooth speaker

            2. Download and open the Alexa app (iPhone, Android), then sign in with the Amazon account you use for AskMyClass

            3. Tap the Alexa icon at the bottom of the screen to activate Alexa

            4. Say, “ask my class to dance”, or any activity you want to play

             

            Hear the activity play on the Bluetooth speaker


            How do I introduce Alexa as a tool for my students?


            1. First steps

            Decide how you want the device used in your class.  Here are some questions to consider:

            • Do you want to be the only one to talk to the device? 

            • Do you want the students to use the device in small groups or on their own?

            • What expectations will you have for your students?  Many of your students might have an Alexa device in their home.  Our suggestion is that you talk to the students about how the use of Alexa at school will be different from the use at home.  You might create a Venn diagram of how it is alike and different. Come up with a class expectation anchor chart with the students.  

            Printable Expectations and Anchor Charts


            2. Decide on your Class Setting and Use

            When interacting with Alexa, only one person can talk to and respond at a time.  Here’s how you might want to use Alexa in whole group, small group, and individual settings. 


            Whole Group

            Designate a “caller” - the speaker who will ask and answer to the Alexa device.  In a K-2 classroom, it works best for the teacher to be the caller. One way to facilitate this is to have students use whiteboards to answer the question given.  They hold up the board and the caller looks for the most common answer in order to respond. Students can also use thumbs up and down. The caller could be a chosen student if you feel that will work in your class.


            Another way to facilitate whole group use is to have a lineup.  Students line up and the first in line answers and asks. When they are done they sit down or go to the back of the line.  The next student then becomes the caller.


            *Some suggested times to use whole group

            Transitions, math fact practice, spelling practice, trivia, discussion questions, writing prompts, games, music.


            Small Group

            For small group facilitation, one way to use the device is to have students sitting at a table or around the device and rotate in a circle to designate the caller.  You can also use the whiteboard system. Again in a K-2 classroom, it works best to have the teacher as the caller. 


            *Some suggested times to use small group: Intervention group warm-up for math problems, spelling practice or assessments, research questions, games, definitions, math exercises.


            Individual Use

            If you’re using an Alexa speaker with a battery, students can move the speaker to where they are working for individual use.  Otherwise, students can stand by the device. In a K-2 classroom, this is not recommended unless your students are well trained. 


            *Some suggested times for individual use: Research questions, spelling, practice with individual needed skills, for example, math or spelling.


            3. Start slowly with these helpful teacher tools

            Start with general tools that will help make your day as a teacher a bit easier.  For example, setting reminders or using a timer can help you with tasks you might otherwise forget. It’s also helpful to print and keep the commands to say to Alexa handy.


            • Set reminders

            Try setting a reminder when it is a couple minutes before recess, lunch, a special or pack-up time.  The reminders can be set for one time, daily or certain days.

            “Alexa, set a reminder” or “Alexa, remind me to…”


            • Set timers 

            Try using it for clean-up time, transition, independent work or quiet time.

            “Alexa, set a timer for __ minutes.”


            • Check the weather when starting the day or before going to recess. Weather is a practical skill and can be used for conversation, learning, questions, predictions or even what to wear for recess. You may want to check the zip code is accurate in the settings of your Alexa app.

            “Alexa, what’s the weather?”


            • Connect to a personal music account

            Link to Apple music, Pandora, Spotify in your Alexa app.

            E.g. Alexa, open (music station) on Pandora (note: the free version has ads)


            4. Let students know that you can read and hear what they’ve asked Alexa 

            Anything said to Alexa can be reviewed (and deleted) in the Alexa app. See the section, “how do I delete voice recordings?”

            Do you have an easy way to remember the Alexa Commands?


            Yes! Remembering what to say to Alexa can be a struggle at first. We have printables that we update regularly. Print and keep them handy in the classroom.


            How can I improve how Alexa responds?


            Check the Location

            • Keep Alexa away from corners or too close to a wall to prevent bouncing sound waves being picked up by the microphone.


            Voice Train your Alexa device (for teachers, not for students)

            • In your Alexa app > Menu (top right) > Settings > Alexa Account > Recognizable Voices > Your Voice > Begin


            Get an Alexa Remote

            • Eliminates background noise

            • Can mute the Echo speaker, and still use Alexa with the remote


            Can I change “Alexa” to a different wake word?


            Yes. The wake word is the word that activates your speaker. By default this is “Alexa”. However, if a student’s name sounds like Alexa, you can pick from 3 other wake words.


            By voice: Say, "Change the wake word."

            In the Alexa app: Menu (top left) > Device Settings > select your device > Wake Word > Select wake word


            Can I keep Alexa “open” for the next command?


            Follow-up Mode allows you to ask Alexa follow-up questions without repeating the wake word. The blue light ring remains on for a few seconds, letting you know that Alexa is active and ready for your next request.


            To turn on Follow-up Mode, open your Alexa app: Menu > Device Settings > Select your device > scroll to Follow-up Mode > toggle to turn it on.


            Warning: it could be convenient, but it could also lead to confusion with background noise. And recording continues a little while after the response.


            How do I stop Alexa?

            There might be times when you want to stop Alexa early.

            Say...“Alexa, stop” or “Alexa, cancel”


            How do I delete voice recordings?


            Any or all voice recordings can be reviewed and deleted by the Amazon account holder. Choose the way that best suits you.


            Manual deletion - use Alexa reminders to prompt you e.g. “Alexa, remind me to delete voice recordings every Friday at 3:30pm”.


            • Delete on your smartphone.

              • Open the Alexa app > Menu (top left) > Settings > Alexa Privacy>  Review Voice History > select the Date Range (e.g. All History) > Tap “Delete All Recordings”

            • Delete by voice. 

              • First, you enable this ability: Open the Alexa app > Menu (top left) > Settings > Alexa Privacy>  Review Voice History > turn on “Enable deletion by voice”.

              • Now you can delete recordings by saying, "Alexa, delete what I just said" or "Alexa, delete everything I said today."


            Automatic deletion

            • Open the Alexa app > Menu (top left) > Settings > Alexa Privacy > Manage your Alexa Data > Automatically delete recordings, and select the time frame (3-months or 18-months).


            What controls do I have?


            Appropriately, there is debate around privacy with voice technology. We believe that there is a way to enjoy the benefits and protect privacy with knowledge and simple measures.


            Alexa

            • Red ring = Mute button on = can’t activate Alexa by talking to the speaker.

            • An Alexa remote allows you to activate the speaker, even in mute.

            • The above two points allow you to access voice technology without recording student voices, if that is a concern.

            • No blue ring = No recording = Alexa in “listening” mode, waiting for the wake word.

            • Blue ring = Recording and storing of the recording on Amazon servers.

            • You, as the Amazon account holder, have the control to delete all recordings in the Alexa app, anytime.

            • In the settings of your Alexa app, you can set a tone to be played when the blue light ring goes on and off, to know if it’s been accidentally activated.


            AskMyClass

            • Doesn't collect any personally identifiable data for children.

            • We don't get access to the voice recordings, only to the transcripts.

            • We don't have student accounts.

            • The majority of our activities are intended for teachers to invoke, so our product can easily be a teacher tool only.

            • We encourage the use of the mute button (and remote) when Alexa is not in use.

            • Our Privacy Policy has more details.


            What is AskMyClass and how can I try it?


            AskMyClass has free social-emotional learning and community-building audio activities on Alexa, like mindfulness and yoga, aimed at PreK-3rd grade.


            To try it on your Echo:

            1. Enable and account link the “AskMyClass - Teacher & Student Classroom Helper” skill

            1. Click My Class

            2. Sign in to the Amazon account linked to your Echo

            3. Click "Enable"

            4. Click "Link Account" (you may need to unblock pop-ups in the top right corner of the browser bar) 

            5. Click "Allow" (you'll see the message "successfully linked")


            2. Say these phrases

            “Alexa, ask my class to dance.”

            “Alexa, ask my class for mindfulness.”

            “Alexa, ask my class for social stories.”

            “Alexa, ask my class to welcome us.”


            If you are unable to get responses to the commands, use this guide to check that the AskMyClass app is account-linked to your Echo.


            3. Here are the phrases for our free activities

            Phrase cards


            We also have a paid subscription for our full range of audio activities and our customization tool, including classroom management/transitions, Math, English language arts, and a random name picker/grouper from your class list. To subscribe, sign up here. The subsidized teacher price is currently $20 per year for individual teachers.

            What information can I share with parents and administrators?


            These letter and slide templates have information about Alexa and AskMyClass for you to share with parents and administrators. The letter contains the links to Amazon’s Children’s Privacy Disclosure and the AskMyClass Privacy Policy.



            Questions or comments? Please email us at team@goaskMyClass.com.


            Updated: 2 days ago
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