What it does

Rapping just became educational.

Studytracks, created by award-winning British songwriter and producer George Hammond-Hagan, is an Alexa skill that sets coursework and study materials to music.

The skill can be used by kids trying to study for their courses.

Hammond-Hagan came up with the idea while his son Paris was struggling to concentrate while he was studying for his end-of-year exams.

As a music producer, Hammond-Hagan wondered what it would be like if there was music to help his son study. So he decided to write music using his son’s physics book.

After his son’s next physics class, he remembered everything and had so much fun with the music, he showed it to his friends, too. They also loved it.

‘It was a really natural thing to say well actually if it can help my son, it can probably help a lot more kids as well,’ said Hammond-Hagan

How we built it

We did a load of verbal prototyping before even getting down to the tech. Designing the conversation trees for the interactions on paper before we even touched the code. The bonus that we had was that there was already an API available for the app which meant that the back end was pretty much ready to serve up the audio we needed, so we just needed to get the skills and the API working together and then the various prototyping and testing tools helped us work towards a solution pretty quickly once we handed to the tech team.

Challenges we ran into

We have such a huge amount of content that letting kids navigate to different topics is really tough. We started off making the user go through a hierarchy of options which was cool, but ultimately cumbersome. Now a kid can ask for any topic, at any level of the verbal navigation and Alexa will deliver up what they are looking for.

Accomplishments that we’re proud of

Studytracks started life as a mobile app but now it feels really at home with Alexa. The service is audio by nature so it’s just the perfect platform for delivery of learning for kids and it lets them listen at the right place at the right time. We love the idea of generation of kids learning in the kitchen before they eat, or studying whilst they doze off to sleep.

What we learned

Try to keep the interactions as simple as possible. People often don’t remember the voice commands, so keep them super intuitive and give the user lots of options. Don’t make the user think to have to use the skills. Lower the complexity of the interaction and drive higher engagement!

What’s next for Studytracks)

We can’t wait to add a bundle of new features to our skills. We want to add more tracks, more ways to learn and a greater range of content. We’re even looking at taking the skill multilingual too.

We’re also thinking about adding tests too. We’d love to have the ability to test kids before and after they have listened to a Studytracks and see how the music has cemented their learning.

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