There is no question that the rise of educational technology has done incredible things for the classroom. There’s a reason the average teacher uses 20 to 30 digital applications, sites and tech services every single day. Never before in history have there been so many innovative ways to enrich and deepen the learning experience.
As the digital ecosystem has grown more complex, teachers are experiencing new levels of technostress. Yes, all those new apps can take learning to new heights. But trying to navigate and coordinate them in a noisy classroom setting, while one or two dozen distraction-prone students look on impatiently? Well, that part is somewhat less than ideal.
Symphony Classroom with Merlyn was designed to give teachers the best of both worlds: the unbridled power of educational technology minus the headache of coordinating all of it. It’s an AI-powered, voice-activated digital assistant that seamlessly integrates with the apps and devices teachers already use. It lets teachers stay present and in-the-moment, by untethering them from the front of the classroom—and thereby unlocking the freedom to actually teach.
Teaching and technology, seamlessly integrated
Think for a moment of all the minor technological tasks that teachers have to perform every day. Setting timers. Switching HDMI ports. Pulling up and clicking through slideshows. Switching from tab to tab on a web browser. Finding and displaying student assignments, or specific parts of specific videos, or relevant pictures, or primary sources—on and on and on.
As teachers know, these tasks in aggregate can seriously disrupt the flow of a given lesson. After all, every second spent hunched over a laptop is a second that isn’t being spent on one’s students. And at a time when teachers have less wiggle room than ever—when there is so much to teach, and (it can sometimes feel) so little time in which to teach it—those seconds start to add up.
With Merlyn, these disruptions melt away. Without turning their attention from their students, the teacher can use their voice or remote control to set a timer, or move through a slideshow, or do any one of the dozens of tasks that usually interrupt a given lesson. Freed from their desk, they can roam the room, gesticulate, engage in a way they never really could before.
The experience is seamless. Too often, the technology designed to improve the learning process actually hinders it—by taking students and teachers out of the moment and increasing the odds of distraction. With Merlyn, the all-important flow of the class is maintained; engagement is naturally increased; and learning outcomes are improved across the board.
Streamlined classroom management
The implications of all this for classroom management are significant.
Let’s use collaborative work as an example. Teachers understand that collaborative work comes with serious rewards and equally serious risks. It can be a real gift to watch students learn from one another, and solve problems they never could have tackled on their own. But facilitating that kind of learning environment requires relentlessly on-point classroom management. When students work among themselves, the potential for chaos is ever-present.
With Merlyn, this risk is drastically minimized. The teacher can freely circulate around the room without constantly hopping back to the laptop or smart panel. They can provide attention where it’s needed while staying fully on top of classroom mechanics. They can be present, in the mix, to a degree that current classroom setups often make difficult.
Of course, the benefits here extend far beyond think-pair-share. Think of how many times, in the course of a regular day, a teacher is forced to turn their back to the class while configuring this or that bit of technology. Think of how often just this slight interruption can veer a whole lesson off-course. Once lost, the undivided attention of a classroom can be difficult to regain.
These small moments matter. And Merlyn’s technology is designed to make every moment count. With Merlyn, both teachers and students can stay continuously engaged.
Education technology has long promised a seamless, immersive experience for students and teachers alike. The results, in practice, have often been mixed—just ask any teacher who’s turned to reboot their laptop and lost the classroom’s attention in the process. Merlyn marks a new era in educational technology—one in which teachers are fully in control.