Spread of digital assistants to classrooms poses concerns

Teachers are using voice-enabled smart speakers in their classrooms to familiarize students with the digital tools while also weaving the device into educational lessons, District Administration reports. To address concerns about the speaker potentially always listening, one 5th-grade teacher in Massachusetts unplugs the speaker when it’s not in use, and a student is assigned to plug the device in when it’s needed.While some schools and districts have been concerned about privacy issues around the devices, such as what it records when it's turned on, others are piloting their use and are being taught to check what the device is recording so they know what's being collected. Voice-enabled speakers are slowly finding their way from homes into schools. Some teachers are bringing these digital assistants into classrooms, having children ask simple questions of them or to even play games. One science teacher in Baltimore, Maryland, even found the devices helped her with classroom management. But concerns about how these devices work are also on the rise. Smart speakers from Amazon, Google and Apple all react to hearing specific words, including the device's name. But to hear those cues, they must be listening to know when they're spoken aloud.

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