By Molly Loughman
Emerson Launch and the School of Communication recently hosted the first-ever Voice of Education Summit, a daylong conference where educators and industry leaders discussed how voice-enabled technology can be used in and out of the classroom.
The event was hosted at Emerson’s Paramount Center, and co-sponsored by Voice First Events. Emerson Launch is the college’s hub for entrepreneurship and innovation, and it has spearheaded Emerson’s growing initiative to lead the conversation in a voice-first world.
“Because this voice technology industry is so broad and complex, it’s technical, it’s artistic, it requires people of many disciplines to come together and complement one another,” said summit speaker Tanya Chopp, content marketing manager for Voices.com, an industry-leading website connecting businesses with professional voice talent, based out of London, Ontario.
“So companies are quick to realize where they have a skills gap and to come to events like this to find great partners to work with to fill those gaps,” Chopp said.
The summit aimed to explore the intersection of voice-first technology and education, and to discuss its pros and cons. Besides industry representatives, K-12 educators and academics from institutions such as Columbia University and the University of Washington also took part in the event.
Emerson, The Voice for Voice
Emerson Launch Director Sanjay Pothen explained that as voice technology develops, the skills in critical demand now are in communication, such as storytelling, marketing, linguistics and speech.
“They’re things we’re good at Emerson and they’re valued in this voice-first world. So, there’s great opportunity for us to lead. It’s a great opportunity for us to prepare our students for this world,” Pothen said.
Since embarking on the voice-first initiative, Emerson Launch has created three campus-wide skills for Alexa; a hackathon; a pilot program utilizing voice as a classroom study aid; and it also earned an Amazon fellowship to advance voice at the College – the only non-engineering school to receive the grant.
“It’s really exciting to see right now that learning doesn’t just sit restricted with educational institutions. It is really something now that is out of the classroom. It is in your home. The classroom is your car. The classroom is your phone. Learning is continuous. And the education industry is enormous, growing and exciting,” Chopp said.
Emerson Communication Studies alumna Frida Sternbach ’18 found a home for her passion for both education and communication when she became Emerson Launch’s program coordinator earlier this year. Before then, she never knew how education could be linked to voice.
“We [at Emerson Launch] are so happy to have students involved,” Sternbach said. “We want to get feedback. We want to teach them how to do this and we want them to teach us what they want to take out of this. Emerson Launch is open. Please join.”