GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (GRPS) — Grand Rapids Public Schools is piloting new technology to help district leaders reach a broader audience with its video messages.

Recently the district began using computer software that is able to take video of a leader speaking English and translate it into a video in Spanish using the speaker’s voice. The technology also changes the speaker’s mouth movements to align with the words in Spanish.

“In the past we’ve worked with team members and contractors to do voiceovers of the message we’re sharing, but we believe this allows the user to be one step closer to hearing directly from us,” said Leon Hendrix, GRPS Executive Director of Communications. “That’s our goal in everything we do — to remove barriers of engagement wherever they exist. We’re excited to see emerging technology that can help us in this work.”

Messages translated using the technology include an on-screen notification stating that the translation was generated by computer software.

“We’re not trying to trick or confuse anyone. We felt it important to put in guardrails that ensure transparency so the viewer understands what they are watching,” Hendrix said.

The district also employs the assistance of those fluent in Spanish to review videos translated using AI for accuracy and clarity before publication. 

Hispanic scholars make up about 40% of the district’s student population. About 28% of GRPS students have Spanish listed as the preferred language to communicate with their families.

The technology has a limited number of languages available for use. GRPS leaders hope to expand the use of the technology to include other languages as they become available.

Click the links below to see the technology in action with Superintendent Dr. Leadriane Roby’s recent Vlogs. Just select the blue bar below the video that says “Click here to watch the Vlog in Spanish”.

LINK: 'Reimagine' Vlog: Proposal for a New School at the Aberdeen Campus
LINK: 'Reimagine' Vlog: Advocating for Scholars, Building Transitions and Transportation