Alexa for all: Saint Louis University students receive virtual personal assistants in their rooms
Saint Louis University (SLU) will become the first university to bring virtual personal assistants into every student residence on its campus and to equip them with a private, SLU-specific skill through Alexa for Business. This fall, SLU plans to place more than 2,300 Amazon Echo Dots in residence hall rooms and student apartments.
Every room will have an Echo Dot set up and ready to use when fall classes get underway in late August. The exclusive “SLU” skill – built by N-Powered and deployed through Alexa for Business to all Alexa-enabled devices on campus – will provide instant answers to more than 100 custom questions, from “What time does the library close tonight?” to “Where is the registrar’s office?”.
The special “Ask SLU” skill will also include information about Billiken athletics games, concerts and major speakers, student events and organizations, and service and mission opportunities, among many other aspects of student life. By 2019, the University hopes to make more personalized features available to students, such as their class schedules and grades.
David Hakanson, the University’s vice president and CIO said, “Every minute we can save our students from having to search for the information they need online is another minute that they can spend focused on their education.”
In advance of this effort, the University conducted a pilot project that placed Echo Dots in 20 residence hall rooms and a competing device in another 20 rooms. The Echo Dot received the most positive feedback from participating students.