If any word defines the present moment, it’s technostress—i.e., the stress you feel when the technology you need to do your job actually makes that job harder.
Technostress has long been a fact of life in fields like banking and communications, but in recent years, it has taken over the classroom, too. Even before the pandemic, teachers were navigating an unprecedented number of apps and devices. Today, teachers have more technology to manage than ever before and technostress has reached an all-time high.
Symphony Classroom with Merlyn—an AI-powered digital assistant—was designed specifically to reduce that technostress. With it, teachers can use just their voices to orchestrate their entire suite of tech tools from anywhere in the classroom. Freed from their desks, teachers can focus on actually engaging with students.
Over the last few years, the innovators at Merlyn Mind have worked closely with UC Irvine’s Creativity Labs to figure out how, exactly, Merlyn impacts the classroom experience for teachers. Controlled studies were conducted at two locations—in California and North Carolina—and the data was carefully analyzed. The results were clear: Merlyn is the solution for technostress that teachers have been waiting for.
How Merlyn solves for technostress
In the modern classroom environment, a teacher needs to be an educator, a manager of classroom behavior, and, increasingly, a kind-of theater technician. The first two roles have been par for the course since time immemorial, but the third is a newer development—and the resulting stress is helping to drive some teachers out of the profession entirely.
The technical tasks are endless. Inputs need to be switched; timers need to be set; documents need to be tracked down on Google Drive. Videos need to be found, as do the right moments in those videos. Demos, simulations, visual quizzes—all must be managed from the front of the class. And all this needs to be done in an already high-stress classroom setting, where even the slightest interruption can veer a whole lesson off the rails.
It’s in this environment that technostress takes root, overwhelming already-burdened teachers and damaging the learning experience for everyone involved. And it’s precisely this environment that Merlyn is designed to transform.
According to the UC Irvine study, 61% of Merlyn users noted an overall reduction in technostress after just seven weeks. Crucially, teachers reported feeling more in control of their classroom technologies—for the first time, they were getting all the benefits of these apps, with far fewer headaches.
This is thanks in part to Merlyn’s fluid, multimodal interface. Instead of darting back and forth to the front of the room to switch an input or a slide, teachers can engage from anywhere in the room, using just their voice or a remote control to manage the classroom’s tech component.
How Merlyn saves teachers time
Merlyn doesn’t just reduce technostress.
In the classroom, every second of class time counts. It’s not just that there’s so much to teach—although there is—it’s that the mood of a classroom can shift in a matter of seconds. Two wasted minutes spent troubleshooting with one’s back turned to the class can turn into ten wasted minutes of trying to recapture the room’s attention and get the lesson back on track.
Merlyn can help. After using it for 7 weeks, 54% of the participants reported an increase in teaching time savings and efficiency. That saved time pays dividends—in student attention and performance, and in teacher job satisfaction (no small thing, with turnover rates as high as they are today). No longer tethered to their desks, teachers can move freely about the room and offer attention where it’s most needed.
When it comes to teaching, there will always be challenging aspects of the job and the people who take it on are aware of that fact. But it should only be as hard as it has to be—and the technology designed to facilitate it should not be making it harder. If technostress is today’s most common classroom ailment, then Merlyn is the cure—a way to reap the benefits of technology without disrupting the classroom in the process.