After a long day of online classes or using my computer/tablet in my in-person classes, sometimes the last thing I want to do is stare at a screen and study for my classes. Fortunately, my Amazon Echo Dot provides several options for studying materials from my classes and can even help with building study skills. Here are some of my favorite tips for how Amazon Alexa can help you study, using these free skills.
Is that test tomorrow or next week? I can easily ask Alexa to set reminders for me for different days and times so that I can keep track of assignment deadlines, outline a schedule for when I want to complete certain tasks, or even just simple reminders about when to eat lunch. Users can add reminders within the Alexa app by going to the Reminders menu, or say “Alexa, remind me to do this task on this day and time.”
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LOOK UP WORDS AND ASK FOR SYNONYMS
Amazon Alexa has a built-in dictionary so that users can easily ask what words mean, or for synonyms for different words. This can be done by asking “Alexa, what does insert word here mean?” or “Alexa, what’s another word for insert word here?” I like that asking for the definition or synonyms for a word does not pause music, as I can easily ask for information without worrying about stopping my music or losing my place in a playlist, though some users may prefer to pause their music before asking for these items.
STUDYING WITH THE FLASHCARD SKILL
Need to study for an upcoming quiz or test? Users can create their own custom flashcards using the Flashcard skill with Alexa Skill Blueprints for free, with no coding needed. The flashcard skill was created to help people study and master comments by voice using audio-based flashcards. Users can create multiple different topics, though they must use a different skill name for each category. I like using this skill more than I do traditional flashcards, as I can easily keep different cards organized and don’t have to worry about reading (or misreading) any letters or numbers.
SETTING ALARMS AND TIMERS
A lot of study methods recommend using alarms and timers to structure study times, and I prefer to use these over reminders when it comes to studying as alarms/timers require the user to acknowledge the alarm.
READING BOOKS OUT LOUD
Reading from Kindle
This skill will read the most recent book in the Kindle library, starting from the most recent page. Alexa’s voice will read the text, as opposed to another audio recording. It can also start from the beginning of chapters if needed. The book must support text-to-speech in order for this to work, though almost all titles support it- even some of my textbooks.
Reading from Audible
With an Audible subscription, Alexa can play any title in their Audible audiobooks library. Audible is different than the Kindle audiobooks because professional voice actors read the book, not Alexa. Users can choose what chapters to start at, fast forward/go backward thirty seconds, and adjust volume.
Adding a sleep timer
To keep Alexa from playing for hours on end, set a sleep timer so that the audio shuts off after a given amount of time. This is a great tool to help keep people from zoning out when listening to a book and losing their place- I typically set mine for about 30 minutes at a time.
Asking for Wikipedia
Alexa can read Wikipedia articles about a variety of topics when asked. I tested this by asking about my favorite band, and she read the information at a smooth and easy-to-follow pace. After that, I asked Alexa to read an article that featured a chemical formula, and that went well too. This feature is especially helpful when trying to figure out information from a paper, and can help people avoid going down a rabbit hole with Wikipedia entries.
TURNING THE ECHO INTO A WHITE NOISE MACHINE
Some people focus better with white noise in the background, such as a fan or the sound of beach waves. Amazon Alexa has tons of options for white noise and ambient noise that users can listen to while studying or when trying to relax, though I typically just use the fan sound which can be enabled by saying “Alexa, turn on white noise.” I’ve listed more options in my post on how Amazon Alexa can help you sleep linked below.
FINDING MUSIC PLAYLISTS FOR STUDYING
While I don’t frequently listen to music while studying, a lot of my friends love to listen to lo-fi music to study on YouTube, and Amazon Music has a similar playlist available for listeners, plus several other studying playlists. They can be requested by asking “Alexa, play music for studying.”
For users who are looking for historical/vintage-inspired sounds to listen to while studying, check out my post on how Amazon Alexa can help you listen to history linked below.
Other ways Amazon Alexa can help you study
- Download skills that are specifically related to topics such as test prep, math, geography, etc from the Alexa Skills website
- Use other built-in skills such as the calculator or spelling tools-ask Alexa to solve an equation or spell a word
- Instead of changing music stations on a computer or phone, use the Alexa as a speaker and control it with your voice