In this sit down interview at Project Voice 2020, QuHarrison Terry and I speak to Julie Davis, who at the time was director of instructional technology and innovation at Chattanooga Christian School in Chattanooga, TN.
Davis is an Alexa Champion, and the host of Voice In Education Podcast. She is a proponent of Voice in the Classroom, especially using Alexa to help instruction for teachers and students of all levels.
Below is the full transcript of the interview...
Paul: What's up everybody. Paul Hickey here with Data Driven Design and the Nashville Voice Conference. I'm here with Qu Harrison Terry of Inevitable Human and Julie Davis. She is the let me get this. Let me get this right.
Julie: Yeah, I'm waiting.
Paul: She's the Director of Instructional Technology and Innovation. Did I nail that?
Julie You are like the only person in the world that has ever nailed that?
Qu: How did you know that?
Paul: Well. I memorize things maybe like the second or third time that I hear them, so that as I'm writing them out, it saves me time, so I have a good memory.
Qu: Right, That's pretty nice.
Julie: Even I struggle with remembering it, so I'm impressed you did.
Qu: So, the title is very expansive.
Julie: Long yes.
Qu: What do you do?
Paul: Sorry to cut your off. At the Chattanooga Christian School. OK finish the title.
Qu: Oh, the title wasn’t finished.
Paul: No, the title wasn’t finished.
Paul: Now sorry Qu. What do you do?
Julie: So, I do work at Chattanooga Christian School. Here in Chattanooga, TN.
Julie: With that title, my role is really to help students, teachers, and parents use technology to leverage it for learning. And so, I'm supporting all three roles there at the school.
Qu: You're doing everything basically.
Julie: Well, having to do with technology or innovation. So yes.
Qu: So, they should give her a pay raise.
Julie: Did you get that?
Paul: There's people like Jeff Blankenburg from Amazon who we had on, and there's people like Cathy Pearl from Google who we’re going to have on, but Julie is my kind of evangelist. She's like the champion for voice. She's my hero because she's out there doing it in the community, at the schools, getting it in the classroom. She's got like a bunch of hurdles to go through in education.
Paul: Tell us about what are you up to? What are you really trying to do?
Julie: Good question. So, I feel like I always say I feel like voice chose me. I didn't choose it. It was one of those things when I looked at what the capabilities were, I was hesitantly excited about it. Put it in a classroom immediately in a middle school classroom went oh no, unh-uh.
Qu: It was too bad.
Julie: Well, middle schoolers. So, they’re wanting to ask all the questions they shouldn't ask in a class.
Qu: Yeah, bad words and all.
Qu: Yeah, they were kids being kids.
Julie: Yes, so immediately I was like I don't think so. Came about that I was able to go to what used to be the Alexa Conference.
Qu: Did you cut the cord of the...?
Julie: No, I didn't cut it. I just went, we’re done here.
Qu: Really? I feel like it would have more dramatically with the scissors. Like the big scissors.
Paul: Yeah. With the scissors
Julie: You’re done.
Paul: Like cutting the phone cord.
Qu: Yeah like, I’m cutting the cord. Kids are like no.
Julie: Yeah. Not that, anything but that.
Qu: So, the Alexa Conference?
Julie: So, the Alexa Conference was in Chattanooga three years ago is actually when it began. I am a founding attendee. Don’t know if you have had any of those, yeah.
Qu: Whew. Did y’all hear that?
Paul: No, no
Qu: Were you a founding member of this?
Paul: No, but I wish.
Julie: But I was.
Qu: So, did you see Bradley marry Alexa then because you know this is their honeymoon?
Julie: I should have.
Qu: Yeah, oh you know well, you know. She’s in. You’re the first person to actually know.
Paul: Yes. She’s in.
Qu: That's my theory on Bradley.
Qu: He married his Alexa device.
Julie: Yeah, I could totally see that except that I do know he has a wife and a child. So that may not work.
Qu: OK, yeah this is Christian, Christian here. They’re like nah. That ain’t happening.
Julie: We do it, we don't do that.
Qu: We’re Christian.
Julie: And we don't personify Alexa, come on.
Qu: That's true you. I mean it could be a guy or girl. It’s gender agnostic.
Julie: Yes. It could be yes.
Qu: You know Alexa is a spectrum.
Julie: Yeah, but people always, you know, want to use that.
Qu: Have you ever seen that the colors on the ring actually change?
Julie: Yes, I have.
Qu: so, it's a spectrum.
Julie: You’re right.
Qu: It's very inclusive.
Julie: That’s very, very, very true. So where was I?
Paul: You were a founding attendee.
Qu: You were a founding member of Alexa. You were a founding attendee-saw Bradley get...
Julie: Bradley was, Bradley was bringing this to my city and I just reached out and said, hey.
Can, uh, educator just sit in the back of the room and just listen to what's going on?
Qu: And what did he say?
Julie: Well, I had already written many blog posts on, like the capabilities, possibly and I shared those with him, and he said yes. And would you speak?
Qu: Dang. So, he put you on the center stage?
Julie: And so, I back then it was a center stage wasn't as big a deal. The first year, we only probably had 100 people.
Qu: 100 people still a lot of people.
Julie: Yeah, but I mean, I guess.
Qu: That's two or three classrooms.
Julie: True, true.
Paul: I'll vouch for that. It's hard to get 100 people to do anything.
Julie: That's true.
Qu: Think if 100 people watch this video, that's two or three classrooms.
Julie: That's true.
Qu: That watched your video.
Julie: I'm sure we'll get that, right?
Qu: Ideally, yeah. I mean you see those lights. You see those lights.
Julie: So now. That has kind of, because I was part of that first little group of people who are really trying to burgeon the idea of voice in the world. It gave me an ‘in’ to these people and so I shared my heart.
Qu: What was your idea then?
Julie: Oh, I had so many ideas.
Qu: Like yeah back then I just want to hear this. Just give me one.
Julie: My first thing was I want there to be a platform where kids can create using voice. Not just use voice. I'm all about technology and it should be about not just consumption, but also creation. So that's the thing I just keep yelling year, after year.
Paul: I love that.
Julie: Is like we need the ability for kids to create with voice.
Qu: It sounds like Amazon listen to you because we have blueprints now.
Julie: So, blueprints has come. I'm going to say that was because of me. Why not?
Paul: She’s the Avenger. She's the champion.
Julie: I am the reason.
Julie: So that being said, slowly we've been able to create things and the world just kind of opened up the EdTech world that I'm in. Yeah, and I've been speaking at multiple EdTech events across the United States, helping districts across the United States. Shout out to Virginia Beach, VA. So, but in our school in particular, we're using it in ways from a K-12 perspective.
Qu: Now I hear a lot about Alexa and its capabilities when it comes to reinforcing literacy and your reading abilities. Have you had any experience with that?
Julie: Yeah, so that's one area, especially in our elementary school setting, we do center and rotation time. So, a teacher might have an Alexa over in the corner using a skill for literacy, for whatever, math, whatever, and so that's going on over here, she's teaching a small group over here. Another small group is doing something over here, so it's almost like having a teacher assistant in your classroom.
Qu: Wow, I've never heard that analogy.
Julie: There you go.
Qu: Alexa as a T.A. Well, I got a question for you, can this be your new T.A?
Julie: I would love for that to be my new T.A.
Qu: Like what do you think Paul?
Paul: 100%. I feel like that could.
Qu: It could. It doesn't have a resume yet. Yeah, it's never done it.
Julie: Yeah, but very nice graphics.
Paul: It's not going to complain, I don't think, about anything. It’s not going to show up late.
Qu: Sure, we can. We can even get you a Kevlar cord so the kids can't cut it.
Julie: Yeah. So, I saw a shirt the other day because teachers are always wearing goofy graphical charts and it said, “Alexa, Do my Lesson plan.” So, if we can get her, this, to do lesson plans you guys can make millions of dollars.
Qu: Think about standardized lesson plans. I mean, if you could standardize lesson plans.
Paul: Why couldn’t it do lesson plans right?
Qu: Every kid goes through, but then, like you wouldn't have a kid like me. That's like out of the box and like far off.
Julie: But that’s why I’m still in the classroom.
Qu: OK, I see.
Julie: She is just an assistant.
Qu: Oh, she’s just the assistant.
Julie: She’s just an assistant. She will never, ever... And when I say she, it makes me mad when I do that. It will never, ever, ever take the place of the teacher. Relationships matter. Do you hear that?
Qu: I love that. Paul, mic. I'm done, you know.
Julie: I told you Julie was a rock star. I know I told you we need to have her on. She's doing. She's doing things that other people here are not doing.
Qu: I’m still trying to process the teacher assistant Alexa.
Julie: So, one of the things, I had students here with me yesterday and they actually were part of my presentation. They’re international students. So, there were poor students, Asian students that came and we shared how we're using it in the classroom as well.
Qu: What was one of those examples?
Julie: So, we put study guides on the Alexa and then the kids, it's almost like, think about in when you were studying, growing up and you had a flash card. And you read the question and then you turn it over and see the back. So, we were using Alexa in that capability, but it helps them with their verbalization.
Paul: That’s awesome.
Julie: Because they have to say it correctly or Alexis says I'm sorry that's wrong. So, it helps them work with learning how to speak English as well.
Qu: That's genius and you came up with the study guide idea.
Julie: Yeah. We use voicelets. Have you guys talked to the Sanjay from Emerson College yet?
Paul: No, I have not.
Julie: So, Sanjay has a launch program. Emerson College is in Boston, and they, their program created this platform that allows educators to use called voicelets.
Qu: OK, that's fascinating. Alrighty, I'm still … I need to go back to school I feel like after this interview.
Julie: There's one right down the road.
Qu: Your school?
Qu: And you're the Director of Education Technology.
Julie: Oh, hmm, he messed it.
Paul: Director of Instructional Technology and innovation.
Julie: Every time.
Qu: I messed that up. You know the EdTech threw me off?
Julie: Yes, right, right.
Qu: You all know what kind of grades I got.
Paul: Fill us in on what we're building together.
Julie: I reached yeah; you didn't even know that. We just dropped a bomb on him. We've actually been talking. When I talked with our students in class and realized that...
Qu: I'll take that.
Julie: And I realize that there are more things that we could help them with, and one of the things that they really are concerned about is when other people come into the international program. They have questions, but they don't know how to answer, how to get those questions answered. A, because they’re shy. They don't speak the language well. So, they don't want to just walk up and try to ask things, but B they just don't know where to go to ask the question. So, your fine fellow here, Paul, is going to create an onboarding skill for future kids coming into our international program.
Qu: That's press worthy.
Julie: Yes, I agree.
Qu: Yes, we got to blow that up.
Paul: Okay, let’s do it.
Qu: I can't wait to read about it in like the Boston Globe, New York Times.
Julie: There you go. I'm thinking that's where it's going, straight there.
Paul: Yep, we are.
Qu: We’ll have Bradley put it in nuptials.
Paul: I mean it'll for sure be in DataOverOpinions.com. It might not go anywhere else will for sure be there.
Julie: But it will be useful and that's our goal.
Paul: That's right, that's exactly right.
Paul: Our goal is for it to be something that useful and in my opinion, anything that we can create with it that can help students in their learning process. Then I'm a fan. So, I appreciate your willingness to take that on.
Paul: Well, thank you for giving us the opportunity and for helping our youth and our teachers.
Qu: Yeah. I mean the youth are the future. They always win because they've got more life to live than all of us, right?
Julie: That’s true.
Qu: So, it's cool to see that infrastructure of usually technology and innovation is held for people that are at the forefront of the industry. We're bringing it downward in saying hey, you guys get a shot or a chance to interact with it. I just get a little bit afraid because we live in an era where you could possibly meet your match, like the one that's for you, through a swipe.
Julie; That's true so.
Qu: True, and that's only 15 years.
Julie: What if you could do it by voice?
Qu: In 15 years time though, like 15 years ago, there's no such thing as swipe, right?
Julie: Yeah, right.
Qu: Today you could swipe your. You don't even have to go.
Julie: Did you just almost say swipe your life away.
Qu: You could swipe your life away. I had to catch myself.
Julie: I caught him.
Qu: You can read lips. I was like no I don't want to say that. But you could slap your life away, I mean. And that's the world we live in. Kids, you know they have....
Julie: So, what we've got to do is we've got to teach kids how to look at that through critical eyes.
Qu: And that's it.
Julie: And that’s what I want to do, is make sure that they're seeing things, not just for a fun thing, but how. How does this really impact my life? And by teaching them things like this, I think that's an important part of it.
Qu: And it gives them more options and opportunities, right? If you don't have this study guide where you can practice your English ability, then you have to kind of do it with yourself and there's no correction.
Julie: My whole goal as the Director of Instructional Technology and innovation.
Qu: Okay, say that title.
Julie: Yes, is to make sure that my students have a tool belt full of things that when they leave our school, they are equipped for college or whatever is beyond for them. So, that they got - okay, I know that I can use YouTube to go find how to do that, or I can use this, this and that. So that's what I feel like is part of my role is making sure they're equipped for their future.
Paul: Yeah, that’s awesome.
Qu: That's wonderful, alrighty well.
Paul: Thanks Julie.
Qu: I've got a Lesson plan for tonight.
Paul: OK, I've got homework.
Julie: I’m done here then. I’ve given you both something to do. I'm a typical teacher.
Qu: Right, and I'll catch you in the future. Thank you for joining us.
Julie: Thank you.
Qu: And Paul, it’s always a pleasure.
Paul: You too, Qu.
Paul Hickey, Founder / CEO / Lead Strategist at Data Driven Design, LLC and founder of The Voice Event, and The Voice Designer, has created and grown businesses via digital strategy and internet marketing for more than 15 years. His sweet spot is using analytics to design and build websites and grow the audience and revenue of businesses via SEO/Blogging, Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads, Social Media Content Marketing, Email Marketing and most recently, Voice App Design and Development – Alexa Skills and Google Actions. The part that he’s most passionate about is quantifying next marketing actions based on real data.