"OK Google": it's time to unleash the learning

In case you haven't heard, this week the good folks over at YouTube released a new mobile app called YouTube Kids. YouTube Kids takes advantage of Google's voice activated search tool, OK Google in conjunction with traditional keyboard searching to help younger YouTube viewers find age-appropriate videos with a very kid-friendly user-interface.

I donwloaded YouTube Kids app on "my iPad" (I use the phrase my iPad very loosely since my daughter uses it more than I do) right after its release to give it a try. . The first time my two-and-a-half year old Giuliana used YouTube Kids she wasn't very interested in it.  She noticed that she it had less content to view compared to YouTube. In order to try to get her more interested in the app,  I showed Giuliana how she can utilize the "OK Google" voice search to find the videos about the characters she wants to see.

After a few demonstration and countless times running around the house yelling "OK Google!!" Giuliana had figured out how to tap the search button and the microphone to search for what she wanted to watch.  Here is what that looks like:





My wife and I thought it was so cool that she was able to immediately find what she was looking for without running over to us asking to find it.  Obviously Giuliana thought it was pretty cool, too.  

Once I finished my proud poppa moment, I started thinking about the educational implications of tools like OK Google. If my two-and-a-half year old can use this tool to find information online (videos of Frozen and Peppa Pig), what can other emerging learners use this tool to do?  Could we use this technology to start showing elementary students the power of Internet to find information?  Students could use this tool to quickly find images to include in presentations or iMovie trailers.  What about special needs learners? Learners who have trouble spelling could take tools like this and have the power to unlock a whole new world!

I'm excited about how this assistive technology can unlock the learning potential of the Internet!  Let's get started, OK Google?

How are you using assistive technology to engage emerging and special need learners in your classrooms? Sound off in the comments below. 

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