If you grew up in the 70's you will recognize, "Meet George Jetson" as the beginning of a popular futuristic cartoon theme song from back in the day. You may even start singing along! The Jetson's was one of my favorites to watch on a Saturday morning. I loved this cartoon that gave us a glimpse into what the 21st century may look like. Watching the episodes today, I realize that many of those futuristic inventions from the cartoon are indeed part of our everyday life. The home computer, cell phone, microwave oven, treadmill, teleconferencing, and robotics have become essential to our existence in 2018.
Looking back on my childhood, this may have been a good indication that I would become increasingly passionate about innovation as I grew older. I've always enjoyed dreaming about the possibilities for creating something new and better. Better yet, dreaming is not enough for me, I want to make those dreams a reality. This past November on Cyber Monday, I was scrolling through Amazon for all of their special deals. I was immediately drawn to the Echo Dot that remained fixated prominently on the top of the webpage. Call it good advertising, but it intrigued me . Better yet, it's price had drastically dropped for the day, so I decided to push the button and make the purchase. My intention was to use it for playing music in the kitchen while I was making dinner and maybe to ask "Alexa" random questions as I needed it, just as I would ask Google. However, I got more than I bargained for.
This Echo Dot purchase has been more than I ever anticipated it to be. As I walk into my kitchen, I simply say, "Alexa, play James Taylor." and Alexa answers, "Shuffling songs by James Taylor". Within 2 seconds my favorite song "Fire and Rain" is playing. The volume is a little low, so I ask Alexa to turn up the volume and sure enough, the volume increases. How cool is that?! This feels like the Jetson's world that I dreamed about when I was a little girl. As I was pondering the power of this little round dot that I had ordered on a whim, I began thinking, "What else can Alexa do?" If it can shuffle my favorite James Taylor songs, it must be able to do countless more!
My first thought was, "How could I use this in my classroom for learning?" As an educator passionate about the power of play, I started to wonder, "Does Alexa play games?" Searching the app, I was left stunned! Alexa LOVES to play games! In fact, there was no end to the games available to play! The question was, how could I narrow down the games and find the ones that I could use for student learning. Knowing that I was going to be starting International Cuisine soon, I typed in "world trivia" and low and behold....136 results showed up! ...Country Game, World Quiz, My World Capitals, the list goes on! My heart started racing as I realized the potential for this in my Culinary Arts 3 The Amazing Race gamified semester where we are on a race around the world to discover International Cuisine! The possibilities were endless!
Now my wheels were really spinning and sparks were flying! I had to discover what else Alexa could play!! I searched "food trivia" and sure enough 63 results! Food facts, Food Trivia, Noodle It Out, Cuisine Trivia. Holy Wow! This is incredible! What about picking teams? Could Alexa roll a dice or spin a wheel? Yes, she can! Type in "dice" and you will find 91 results! Spin a Wheel? Yep, she can do that too!!! I even discovered she can tell "punny food puns" or choose a flavor on a wheel!
Who knew that this little white dot named Alexa could bring a whole new world of experiences into my classroom! I still love that she can play music by my man, James Taylor, at a moments notice but, she is capable of so much more! I have just opened the treasure box, so I still have so much to try and learn. However, I just couldn't wait to share my discovery! Stay tuned as I explore the magic that the Echo Dot can bring to our classrooms. We truly are living in a Jetson's world.
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.