Privacy and Safeguards 2018-08-06T21:32:47+00:00

Information Privacy and Safeguards

We created askMyClass to support teachers to create a positive classroom experience for students. We believe that what we offer should be safe and trustworthy, and the information you provide should be properly handled with your privacy respected.

Here’s are the principles that guide us:

  • Teachers fully control information and activities added or shared on askMyClass.

  • A minimal amount of information is required from adult teachers to create classroom accounts.

  • Students are not required to create accounts, profiles or provide personal information.

  • askMyClass voice interactions respond to general commands and do not process personal information such as names or email addresses. Personal information is not request, required or used during interactions.

  • Classroom safety and appropriateness is fundamental to all activities and experiences that are developed or suggested.

  • askMyClass does not advertise within askMyClass services, nor will askMyClass use or sell personal information for advertising purposes or to third-parties.

  • askMyClass is not used or intended to connect with external student record providers.

  • askMyClass will continue to openly inform users about best practices related to voice technology in classrooms including controls that are available for additions and deletions, how the service works and changes/updates to the service.

Privacy Policy

You can find our privacy policy here.

If you have any questions, please email privacy@goaskmyclass.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does voice technology work? 2018-07-29T16:54:00+00:00

Conceptually, all voice technology works the same way. A voice request is first captured (as an alternative to typing) on the user’s device. Then, this recording is sent to the cloud for automated transcription into text, which is then processed by the software in the cloud, and followed by a response spoken back by the user’s device.

Are smart speakers ready for use in the classroom? 2018-07-29T16:54:53+00:00

Voice technology isn’t new to classrooms. For more than 5 years, every iPad or Chromebook has allowed teachers and students to use their voice to make requests to Siri or Google, instead of typing. Smart speakers, like the Amazon Echo, took screen-based voice technology and put it into a hardware device with only a microphone, speaker, and most with no screen.

Do smart speakers listen and record everything that it hears? 2018-07-29T22:58:17+00:00

Once an Amazon Echo is connected and ready, it remains in “standby” mode, like a TV that turns on and off with a remote control. Alexa only turns “on” from standby, when it hears a wake word (“Alexa” or one of 3 other options), when the action button with the “dot” is pressed on top of the devices, or when the remote control’s microphone button is pressed and held down.  Once it turns on, a blue ring lights up, visibly indicating that it is waiting for a request, and that the device is now connected to the internet to send the voice request for processing in the Amazon cloud. When it doesn’t hear the wake word, the Amazon Echo device remains in standby. While in standby, there is no visible light, and Amazon doesn’t record what’s spoken, or send it to the Amazon cloud.

An additional audio tone can be enabled in the Alexa app to mark the beginning and ending of a request. When enabled, a short audible tone will play immediately after the wake word is recognized by Alexa to indicate that the device is connected to the internet and streaming audio. When the request is completed, a short audible tone will be heard again, to indicate that the connection has closed and the device is no longer streaming audio.

What’s the difference between askMyClass and Alexa? 2018-07-29T16:55:39+00:00

Just like apps that can be installed on your smartphone or tablet, it is possible to install “apps” on an Amazon Echo device (Amazon calls these “Skills”). askMyClass, our product, is a set of “Skills” that can be installed on a Amazon Echo smart speaker, which is supported by a web application.

Does askMyClass require student accounts? 2018-07-29T17:18:16+00:00

askMyClass is made for teachers, so only requires a teacher’s account. It does not require student accounts, profiles, or records

Who is askMyClass designed for? 2018-07-29T17:19:06+00:00

askMyClass Skills are interacted with by teachers, whether that’s requesting students to line up, or playing a brain break. The activities and content are there to support classroom management, lesson warm-ups and reviews, and the classroom climate. askMyClass is an educational service.

How do you interact with a smart speaker? 2018-07-29T16:58:37+00:00

Activating a smart speaker either requires saying the wake word out loud, like “Alexa”, or tapping a button with the word “talk” or “microphone”.

How can I prevent Alexa from deliberately turning on with a wake word, or accidentally turning on, and listening to my voice request? 2018-07-29T16:56:30+00:00

Every Amazon Echo device comes with a mute button. When pressed, the microphones on the device are disabled and a red ring lights up on the device.

What choices do I have when it comes to using Alexa within our school guidelines? 2018-07-29T17:08:29+00:00

As every school or district has different data handling and privacy requirements, Amazon Echo devices are being integrated in the classroom in different ways. A standard approach is to keep the Amazon Echo device in standby mode so that the device turns on with the wake word. Here are a few other approaches worth considering:

 

Never activated by a spoken wake word

  • Use an Amazon Echo Tap device, a Kindle Fire Tablet with Alexa, or the Amazon Alexa app on a tablet or phone, where voice requests can only be made by pressing on a Talk or microphone button. This is essentially the same as how Siri and Google voice search works on all devices. There is the inconvenience of having to walk over to the device to make requests.

 

Choose to unmute microphone as needed

  • Keep the Amazon Echo on mute all day, and unmute when the device is needed. Using mute means that the microphones are not operational. Muting and unmuting requires physically pressing a button on the Amazon Echo device, and once muted a bright red ring lights up as a visible reminder that the device is muted. Again, there is the inconvenience of having to walk over to the device to make requests.

 

Keep the microphone on mute and use the Alexa remote control at all times

  • The remote control requires a button to be pressed and held down to speak to Alexa. This works with the Echo device on mute.  Again, this means the microphones are not operational, and it is not possible to activate Alexa or the remote control by saying a wake word out loud to the device. Plus, teachers can keep the remote with them at all times, without needing to talk across the room, or walk over to the device to make requests.
Do you have information that I can share with parents? 2018-07-29T21:38:41+00:00

We believe that all parents should understand how askMyClass is being used in the classroom. That’s why we’ve created a parent email/letter for teachers to share. We also created a letter for administrators.

Are Alexa Skills designed for kids, COPPA compliant? 2018-07-29T17:06:37+00:00

Some skills are specifically designed for kids, and have been identified by the developer as directed to children under age 13. For these skills, Amazon requires verifiable parental consent under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), before kid skills can be used. Amazon asks parents to give permission the first time an attempt is made to use a kid skill. Amazon also sends a confirmation email after permission is granted. We’ve added a link to the parental consent page here.

What if kids talk to Alexa and not use a kids skill, is that still ok? 2018-07-29T17:07:50+00:00

In October 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) updated the COPPA guidelines, confirming they will not take enforcement action, if a child under the age of 13 makes a short request to Alexa, such as to perform a search or fulfill a verbal instruction or request, without parental consent, if the collected audio file containing a child’s voice is used solely as a replacement for written words, and the provider only maintains the file for the brief time necessary for that purpose, after which the file is deleted. We’ve added a link to the FTC Policy Statement and COPPA regarding voice recordings here.

Can voices spoken in a classroom be identified? 2018-07-29T17:10:58+00:00

In a classroom environment with a teacher and many students, voices that are spoken to Alexa cannot be identified to a specific individual, unless each voice has a profile that is intentionally trained on the Alexa app. Further, teachers or account owners can disable this ability for automatic voice recognition or delete an existing voice profiles. This means that Alexa cannot automatically recognize voices of users over time via voice recordings to create an acoustic model of a user’s voice characteristics.

 

Further, each Echo device can be set up on an Amazon accounts that has a non-specific name and email address (like echo100@gmail.com).

What does askMyClass do with voice recordings? 2018-07-29T17:21:14+00:00

askMyClass doesn’t receive recording of voices as we are third-party developer (this rule applies with all skills that are created by a third-party developer for Alexa). askMyClass receives an unidentifiable text transcript of the recording, which means we don’t have a recording of voices, and can’t identify whose voice it is (unless of course someone inadvertently speaks a name in the recording, and this name is transcribed into text). With askMyClass, if a child was to inadvertently speak a name to Alexa, our software will reject the text transcript that Amazon provides us,  replacing the text transcript with the word “undefined” in our logs.

What does askMyClass do with students’ information? 2018-07-29T17:21:53+00:00

askMyClass is designed for use by teachers. We do not intentionally collect student information, and none of our skills request students to provide personally identifiable information. If we inadvertently were to collect this information we will delete it.

 

One feature we do make available for teachers is the class random picker, which allows for a teacher to add a list such as spelling words, table groups, or student first names. When requested by a teacher, our skill will then pick a random item from the list, and send this to Alexa to speak back. We don’t log the item that was selected and the time this item was spoken back by Alexa. The teacher remains in control of this information, including adding, modifying or deleting this information. Note that creating a class random picker is not a requirement of using askMyClass, so is optional.  Also, this information isn’t used by askMyClass for identification, targeting or marketing purposes, and is not connected to school software that processes and stores student records.

Can students who interact with askMyClass be identified? 2018-07-29T21:33:43+00:00

If a teacher enables a student to invoke and interact with the askMyClass skill, the voice recording is is not connected to a particular child by name, or other identifiable information. For example, a teacher may ask a child to say “Alexa, ask My Class for mindfulness”, and our skill will never ask the student to provide personally identifiable information.

Do you use student information for marketing or targeting purposes? 2018-07-29T21:34:46+00:00

No, we do not create student accounts, profiles, or require information identifying a student. We cannot and will not target or market to students.

Who hosts askMyClass? 2018-07-29T21:37:08+00:00

askMyClass software runs on Amazon Web Services, which meets the requirements of FERPA (see more about AWS and FERPA compliance here).We store and transfer our data using a secure layer and encrypted at rest. We restrict access to teacher data within the askMyClass team. We’ve added a link with more information below.

Can I delete my askMyClass account? 2018-07-29T21:37:55+00:00

Yes. In the accounts tab on the askMyClass web dashboard, you can delete the account. Deletion will be processed immediately, and our logs cleared within 30 days. More details in our terms of use and privacy policy.

Where can I access all of the policies and guidelines for Alexa and askMyClass? 2018-07-29T21:39:36+00:00
  1. Here’s our askMyClass privacy policy and terms of use.
  2. To learn more about Amazon’s policies, here are a few links:
    1. Amazon’s Children’s Privacy Disclosure here
    2. Alexa and Privacy here
    3. FTC Policy Statement and COPPA regarding voice recordings here
    4. More information about the Alexa and Alexa Device FAQs here
    5. Amazon Parental Consent page here
    6. AWS and FERPA compliance here
Can I review and/or delete all voice recordings and request made to Alexa? 2018-07-29T17:09:37+00:00

Yes, the account holder can review the full history of the voice requests, including the voice recordings made to the Alexa device in the Alexa phone app. There is also a quick “delete all” at Amazon.com/mycd/ under “Your Devices”. The teacher or account owner can also delete any or all recordings, which will permanently remove these recordings from Amazon servers. This has enabled schools to implement a regular process of deleting recordings each week, month, or semester. askMyClass also sends an opt-out weekly reminder to all of our members with a 30 second guide deleting recordings from Amazon servers.

Can Alexa be “muted” by voice? 2018-07-29T17:10:18+00:00

No. Mute can only be turned on by pressing the button on the device.

What if my students talk to Alexa inappropriately? 2018-07-29T17:11:42+00:00

Smart speakers are designed to be communal and placed in a common area. Speaking out loud means that others can also hear what’s being asked. Also, as voice recordings from commands are captured in the account owner’s Alexa app, they can be reviewed at any time. This is unlike a 1-to-1 screen based device, where, for example a typed or voice query into Google can happen in private. Also, Alexa has an explicit filter for Amazon Music, and other services that allow filtering, to be enabled in the Alexa App.

Are their best practice settings for the Amazon Echo in a classroom environment? 2018-07-29T17:12:22+00:00

Yes, we believe that certain Alexa app settings work best for the classroom environment, and our recommendations are available here.

 

In addition, teachers and administrators can put in place a process that requires regular deletion of voice recordings via a teacher or administrator’s Amazon account, and/or send a written consent form request to parents, as an added measure or requirement. We’ve added a link to the Amazon Parental Consent page below.

ClassAlexa is now askMyClass – same goal, different name.