Does Apple's Siri Belong in the Classroom?
Siri classroom applications include anything from a quick check on the forecast to setting an alarm to remind you when the kids need to leave for recess. While few teachers would like to see their students ask Siri whether it is raining outside rather than look through a nearby window, as in one infamous iPhone commercial, letting students know that it’s an easy source of some answers can be just another way to introduce information to the classroom.
For some age ranges, the idea of allowing kids to simply ask a phone a question instead of looking up the answer in a book or online isn’t helpful for teaching research skills. However, in some contexts, using Siri for kids who already have those skills can be useful. Kids who already know how to use a dictionary and how to look for trusted websites for information won’t lose those skills when they ask Siri for an answer when pressed for time. When the number of computers in a classroom is limited, Siri can bridge the information gap and allow students to get fast answers.
The Teacher’s Edition
One easy way to use Siri in the classroom is to use it much like a teacher’s edition textbook. With this quick way to get answers, the teacher can keep the lesson flowing without taking a lot of time to gain the needed information. And for many age groups, the less time spent outside the flow of the lesson the easier it is to keep the class engaged. For younger kids, it can even be used as a reward for good behavior. The honored student can ask Siri the next question instead of the teacher posing the question.
Special Needs and ESL Students
Both students with special needs and ESL students require extra consideration when planning lessons. By using Siri, some special needs children can make the hunt for information easier and less frustrating. For those with physical impairments, Siri is an easy way for those children to find facts quickly when there are no special-needs computers available. For ESL students, talking to Siri can encourage work on correct pronunciation in order to get a correct answer.
Older age groups will include children who have their own phones, and some of those phones will include Siri. When children have their own access to Siri, there are many cheating opportunities for getting fast answers to test questions. Even when the student is at home, Siri can be used to cheat when the assignment includes using a specific type of information source to get answers. When sourcing is important, teachers must require extensive citations to ensure that Siri wasn’t used as an easy shortcut.