Date: February 28th, 2020
By Milagros Garrido and Genevieve Martínez-García
Update, March 16, 2020: What’s Happening with the Alexa Challenge?
We were so excited to have been selected as a finalist for the Amazon Alexa EdTech Skills Challenge, but with the coronavirus pandemic and the need for social distancing, SXSW Edu has been postponed. Organizers are still exploring options for rescheduling and/or creating a virtual event, and that includes Amazon and the Alexa EdTech Skills Challenge. We’ll share any updates as soon as we are able.
This post was originally published on December 10, 2019. The post was updated on February 28, 2020 to include the video.
From asking about the weather, historical facts, and even what “quid pro quo” means, many of us have used a virtual assistant—such as Alexa, Siri, or Google—to make our daily lives a bit easier and entertaining. The nifty voice-activated technologies have become ubiquitous; we find them on our phones, in our homes and offices, and even in schools. These virtual assistants perform simple tasks, like confirming facts and playing our favorite beats and even helping us meditate, or dimming lights and controlling other smart home devices.
But can virtual assistants teach us about sex and contraception? This is the design challenge we are facing in SXSW EDU’s Amazon Alexa Challenge. We are honored to have been selected as one of six finalists charged with the exciting task of developing a new education-focused Alexa Skill to help students, teachers, or school administrators, using Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa.
In the next two months, Healthy Teen Network’s Innovation and Research team will research, develop, and launch a new Alexa Skill to engage high school students in meaningful conversations about their sexual health. We will work with an Amazon Web Services programming team and receive coaching on the best use of voice-technology from Amazon Web Services’ senior architects to ensure we develop a product that is relevant, thoughtful, and deeply personalized to the unique needs of each youth.
Our team is excited to keep pushing the boundaries of traditional sex education and exploring how the technology we use every day can be leveraged to support adolescents’ access to sexual health services and resources. We believe that artificial intelligence and machine learning are promising technologies to overcome the barriers we face when taking sex education to schools. Alexa is one such technologies that can reduce inequities by opening doors to make sex ed more accessible.
Are you looking for an exciting event to amplify your professional development? Consider attending SXSW EDU 2020 and don’t miss our Alexa skill presentation to a panel of judges and a live audience on March 12.
Genevieve Martínez-García, PhD, Director of Innovation and Research at Healthy Teen Network, is a health educator committed to bringing innovation to the field of sexual and reproductive health. She has over 16 years of experience researching adolescent sexual and reproductive health issues.
Milagros Garrido, M.S., Associate Director of Innovation and Research at Healthy Teen Network, is a design researcher and an educator committed to using human-centered design to help communities to learn, use, and translate practical and innovative approaches to solve public health issues. Milagros has over 12 years of experience in the public health and nonprofit sector with expertise in strategic planning, grant writing, capacity-building, and project management of diverse teams.
About the Author
Healthy Teen Network envisions a world where all adolescents and young adults lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Founded in 1979, we promote better outcomes for adolescents and young adults by advancing social change, cultivating innovation, and strengthening youth-supporting professionals and organizations. We serve as a leading national membership organization (501c3) for adolescent health professionals and organizations, promoting a unique and holistic perspective—we call it Youth 360°—to improve the health and well-being of young people.