Edtech Insiders Podcast: Conversation with CEO, Martyn Farrows
August 2, 2023
Just released today this wide ranging podcast discussion between CEO Martyn Farrows and EdTech Insiders host, Alex Sarlin.
Here are some quick takeaways based on the key topics Alex and Martyn discussed. You can listen to the full 45-minute discussion here.
The high stakes of voice-enabled education tools
Martyn explains how little voice experiences for consumers have in common with the kinds of voice-enabled learning experiences we power at SoapBox, and says:
“If you end up getting the wrong pizza using a voice assistant, it’s annoying, but it’s not high stakes. If you end up incorrectly grading a student because you misunderstood their accent, that’s different. That’s a problem”.
He continues by explaining how SoapBox tests our voice engine to ensure it’s representative of all kids’ voices:
“It comes down to really granular things. For example, if you’re asking a Spanish speaking child to describe a picture, you need to show them a picture which is culturally appropriate to them. Because then they will use their authentic voice to describe it”
How do we know SoapBox is grading kids accurately?
This question from Alex is one we often get asked by new clients. The answer? SoapBox does not get involved in grading students. As Martyn explains, SoapBox’s role is to return accurate and objective data on what the child said, not to decide if what they said is correct or not:
“SoapBox’s role is not to decide the correct pronunciation of a word. Our job is to correctly build a voice system that is able to recognize the multiple correct pronunciations of a word. Then it’s for the educator, curriculum developer or assessment provider to take those objective data points and use them to measure the progress the child is making”
How SoapBox offers expert advice on building successful voice-enabled education tools:
Martyn discusses the value of the expertise SoapBox has accumulated over the last 10 years of developing voice AI, for kids and for the education sector specifically, and the value that delivers for clients in a practical way:
“There’s a lot of expertise and knowhow that’s been built up by SoapBox over those years in terms of how to use the data, or simple stuff, like, how do you elicit a four year old to use their voice in a educational app where you’re asking them to pronounce a word? What are the mechanisms you use to trigger them to start to speak and to stop speaking, those kinds of things. Because they’re very different approaches between a four year old than an eight year old”
What is Martyn most excited about?
Using voice AI to close the gap between instruction, practice and assessment. Listen @ 19 mins in to hear why
“How could we do things differently now that we know that we have this technology that works and is accurate and is dependable and reliable?
“Rather than having teachers administer an assessment or a test, maybe the assessment can be done in the background, by the voice technology. And then the teacher gets the relevant information which they can use to design interventions, data that gives them actionable insights and makes the best use of their time”
Martyn dives into a detailed explanation of how SoapBox has developed an entirely different model around privacy that most other voice players in the market explaining:
“We want to be the thought leaders in this space. We want to effectively establish a benchmark for how this should be done”