It’s a scene that replays in homes across America every night: children pouring over homework, with their parents trying to figure out how best to help. But tech is changing that up these days, thanks to smart speakers. It’s easy for adults to ask Siri, Alexa and Google Home for help. It’s even more tempting for the kiddos.
Maureen Paschal of TheCapableStudent.com says, “It's so quick and easy, and it's immediate. You don't have to wait for Mom or Dad to get home from work. You don't have to explain to them why you don't know this information yet. You can just ask the device and get the answer and get your homework finished.”
But it may not be the smartest solution. Paschal says real learning takes place during the struggle to find the answer.
She elaborates, “Things like having to rephrase the information and rethink the information in a different way...taking a break and letting the information kind of sink in, on getting up and walking around, changing rooms… all of those things are difficulties that help learning to happen.”
So, getting an easy answer from a smart speaker may actually get in the way of the learning.
“It's going to undermine their education in the long run,” Paschal explains.
But you don’t have to ignore the devices altogether. There are times they may be helpful…like checking the homework after it’s done. Paschal explains, “They can check their answers against the device. So in that way, they're still able to use the device and you're not sitting there, maybe double checking their multiplication sheet but they're doing the work. But then the device is helping them correct it.”
Paschal says parents also need to determine the point of the assignment. If it’s about practicing to make something stick, students should avoid the speaker, no matter how smart it is. “The basic truth is that if someone's just giving you this information and then you're plugging it into a homework assignment and then you're done, you haven't had any difficulty really at all, and probably, you don't get much knowledge in that process,” Paschal tells us.