As the tech giants of the world come out with new forms of technology, Darca is right there with them wondering how that technology can be incorporated into their classrooms. The latest: Amazon Alexa

Darca’s Chief Technology Officer, Shahar Mizrahi shares with us the inspiration for this program and how is has been successful…

Between the personal assistance apps on our smartphones and the advanced analytic systems used in hi-tech, artificial intelligence surrounds us in our day to day. At Darca, we identified the inherent potential of artificial intelligence actually in the field of education.

In stage one, we thought it best to give students the opportunity to “get to know” the “machine” that’s modeled based on Alexa. After in-depth research on artificial intelligence machines available in the market, we found Alexa to be the best fit for this purpose.

Amazon, the company behind the Alexa machine, developed an interactive speaker that Alexa is an integral part of. This allowed us to move forward with an already existing shelf product that met our needs. Amazon also enabled developers to develop additional skills for Alexa and thus to expand the basic skillset of the machine.

After thoroughly learning about Alexa, we developed English language lessons intended to improve students’ verbal proficiency. The student receives a worksheet that, through conversing with Alexa, s/he can solve. As an example of an English language lesson, students choose a country they are interested to visit and they ask Alexa questions in English about that same country. Questions regarding national leaders, culinary styles, culture and more. This way, they practice asking questions in English and also obtain interesting general knowledge.

We were surprised to find how successful interactions between students and Alexa were. Students who in the past were afraid to speak publicly in English did not hesitate at all with Alexa. Furthermore, Alexa, which was developed to understand American accents, challenges students to express themselves more clearly and correctly.

Currently at Darca, we are working on an application for Alexa that will enable teachers to test students privately (similar to tests students will encounter during their bagrut) and to get them to respond verbally. Alexa will then analyze students’ answers and grade them. In the end of the process the teacher will receive the exams’ transcript together with a recording of the student and Alexa’s analysis. Alexa will produce recommendations regarding each student based on an analysis of each student’s results and in comparison to the rest of the class.

At Darca, we identify in Alexa and artificial intelligence the future of teaching in the 21st century. We are excited to be the world leaders in this field.