Voice-tech to the help of rural students

Voice-tech to the help of those who are left out of online learning

Voice technology supports individualised learning as well as pair, small-group, and large-group learning.

While e-learning has ensured that children continue to learn during the pandemic, this privilege is largely restricted to urban India. Students in rural India face multiple challenges with respect to internet connectivity, access to e-learning platforms, and the cost factor of devices. 

Video-based learning, that is widely being adopted in city-based schools, requires a good internet connection. Good connectivity is a hurdle for teachers and students in semi-urban and rural India.

In such places, educational institutes can make use of voice-assisted technology which is economical, easily accessible and comes with its own set of benefits.

Voice-assisted tech is compatible with simple and small devices that support voice. Such devices are easily portable and deployable when compared to other tech-solutions. 

Voice-enabled technology requires comparatively lower bandwidth and slower speeds. The devices also have simple interfaces. 

Voice-assisted learning solutions make use of the conventional way of learning i.e., through listening and speaking. By using conversation-style learning, voice-tech ensures natural learning.

It spots mistakes and explains why they are wrong. It also can repeat lessons, exercises, and assessments as many times as learners need. 

Voice technology supports individualised learning as well as pair, small-group, and large-group learning. One device can serve a class of 30-50 students.

As voice-tech is gradually being made available in multiple Indian languages, learning is not restricted only to English. Also, it can be extendable to any academic subject.

Another added advantage is that there is no concern about children being exposed to longer screen time. 

However, despite its benefits, voice-technology hasn’t yet become a popular learning tool due to the fact that voice technology is prominently available in only in English. In India, this brings in challenges with understanding the British or American accent. Another pressing issue is student privacy. While there are ways in which users can protect their privacy, knowing what data has been gathered and how it will be used is a big concern. Also the user experience with voice technology is still evolving.  

In the long run, with maximum capability and impact, voice-tech powered by artificial intelligence has greater return on investment and is going to be the next big education trend. Not only can it enhance learning among students but also amongst teachers. It makes high-quality educational solutions accessible and affordable to semi-urban and rural schools. Most importantly, it makes solutions scalable and sustainable. 

Most of us have a ubiquitous image of e-learning which is visual-based. However, in order to ensure that no child (or teacher) is deprived of learning and that they realise their full potential, we must look towards and support voice-tech in education.

(The author is co-founder Learning Matters)