This blog post is sponsored by Acer Education, a partner of EdTechTeam.
“OK, Google”… Can you be my classroom assistant?
Voice Assistant Devices can be useful tools in the classroom. Students can use the devices to check their spelling and mathematics, ask general knowledge questions, and manage their time with reminders. Teachers can use templates to develop custom games and quizzes without writing any code.
Devices such as Amazon Alexa and Apple’s Siri all work in similar ways, but this blog will focus on the Google Assistant with the Google Home Mini device.
Google Assistant can be found in a number of Google products, including Chromebooks. To obtain a Google Home Assistant, they are readily available in a number of stores and online.
NOTE: This blog has been written for a Global Audience – You should always check school, local and national rules before using a device or new service in this classroom. Google Search and Assistant may need to be enabled.
Everyday Uses ~ Inquiries
With a bit of prompting and practice, even young students can use Google Assistant independently. Here are ten prompts you might want to try with your class to get started:
- “Okay Google, spell ________.”
- “Hey Google, what’s ___ x ___?”
- “Okay Google, what’s the capital of ________?”
- “Hey Google, roll a dice.”
- “Okay Google, what should I write my speech about?”
- “Hey Google, how far away is the sun?”
- “Okay Google, tell us a joke.”
- “Hey Google, what are some local theatres?”
- “Okay Google, how long will it take to drive to _____?”
- “Hey Google, what’s the weather forecast?”
If you don’t have a Google Home, you can test this by opening the Google Home app and clicking the speaker icon in the bottom-middle of the screen. You can also use the same Google Assistant icon on a number of products, including Google Search on some devices.
The abilities of Google Assistant can be extended by enabling third-party Actions, in the same way as you might use an app onto your device. You don’t need to download anything special, just ask Google Assistant to ‘talk’ or ‘speak’ to the Action you’d like you to use. You can view all available actions in the directory here.
Some tried and tested third-party Actions to get you started in the classroom are:
Strangest Day Ever – an oral language ‘choose your own adventure’ story appropriate for students of all ages. It encourages students to listen to stories, infer and predict.
Word Problems for Kids – maths word problems in a range of contexts. Ideal for more confident students this Action includes some ‘tricky’ questions encouraging students to listen carefully and think about the problem they are solving.
Mad Libs – the classic game gives you the phrase and you add in the promoted words to make a silly story. Great as a grammar treat or for reluctant writers.
Teachers and students find Google Assistant to be helpful with classroom organization. Here are a few things to try:
- “Okay Google, add parent-teacher conferences to my calendar.”
- “Hey Google, on Thursday remind me ‘homework is due tomorrow’.”
- “Okay Google, set a timer for 20 minutes.”
- “Hey Google create a list called ‘spelling list 4.’”
→ “Okay Google, add ‘holiday’ to ‘Spelling List 4.”
- “Okay Google, play the clean up song using Spotify.”*
*You’ll need to link your account during setup, or in the Google Home app under ‘Settings’.
Google Home with Google Assistant are great tools for any classroom, but they do a particularly good job supporting students with additional learning needs.
Students can use the device as a reader/writer. They can dictate writing into Notes or Lists, and have it read back to them using commands like ‘Hey Google, create a new note.’ Unlike performing a Google search, students using Assistant on Google Home can check their spelling and access the internet without having to type anything.
For English Language learners, there are plenty of Actions that make practicing conversational English fun and allow them to make mistakes without feeling judged. Google Translate is also available using inquiries like ‘Hey Google, how do you say [phrase] in [language]?’ or ‘Okay Google translate [phrase] into [language].’
Additionally, for students with an audio learning style, or who like to listen to stories (‘Hey Google, tell us a story’), or just have a chat, the device can be a useful stand-in when an adult is not available.
If you would like to learn more about how to set up and customize your device, enroll in our ‘Google Assistant in Education’ online course!
Laura is a teacher and tech coach from New Zealand, with over 7 years of experience in the classroom. In 2019, as her Master’s thesis, she completed the second-biggest study of voice assistant devices in the classroom. Laura has presented and participated in panels on AI in education and works with teachers 1-1 to get them started with Smart Tech in their classrooms. She is a Seesaw Ambassador, Apple Teacher and Google Innovator (#SYD19). You can find her on Twitter @ElleButlerEDU.