20.08.18

US university installs Alexa in every student living space on campus

Saint Louis University in the US is to install Amazon Alexa-enabled devices, managed by Alexa for Business, into every student residence hall room and student apartment on campus. SLU will deploy more than 2,300 Echo Dot smart devices by the start of classes later this month.

Due to a custom SLU skill deployed on each device, students will get instant answers to more than 100 questions specific to the University — from "What time does the library close tonight?" to "Where is the registrar’s office?"

David Hakanson, SLU’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 what matters most: their education."

Through the SLU-specific skill, Alexa will also be able to provide information about major speakers on campus, student events, service and mission opportunities and other aspects of student life

"What is most exciting to me is the enhanced connectivity to the campus community these devices will provide,” said Kent Porterfield, Ed.D., the University’s vice president for student development. “The more connected and engaged students are, the more they learn and benefit from their SLU experience.”  

A pilot program with Amazon Alexa-enabled devices in residence hall rooms was conducted last spring. Since then, student response to the idea has been positive.

While other colleges have placed voice services in select student living spaces or are making them available to students upon request, as early adopter of this technology, Saint Louis University’s approach is unique in that every student living space will come equipped with an Amazon Alexa-enabled device made available to students at no cost.

The SLU skill installed on Amazon’s Echo Dots was created by n-Powered, an Alexa skill development firm, and will be hosted on AWS. The University is using Alexa for Business to deploy the custom skill, to set up and manage the devices, and to enroll new users at scale, or campus-wide.