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SLU Installing Amazon Alexa-Enabled Devices in Every Student Living Space on Campus at No Charge
Saint Louis University is using Alexa for Business to deploy the custom skill, to set up and manage the devices, and to enroll new users campus-wide.
ST. LOUIS, MO, (PRNewswire), August 12, 2018 - Saint Louis University is the first college or university in the country to bring Amazon Alexa-enabled devices, managed by Alexa for Business, into every student residence hall room and student apartment on campus.
Thanks 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?"- all with one simple, voice-powered command.
The Catholic, Jesuit university in St. Louis will deploy more than 2,300 Echo Dot smart devices by the start of classes later this month. The news was announced Aug. 9 during "IMAGINE: A Better World," an Amazon Web Services (AWS) global education conference being held in Seattle.
"The students we attract are highly driven to achieve success in and out of the classroom," said David Hakanson, SLU's vice president and CIO. "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 Billiken athletics' games, concerts and major speakers on campus, student events and organizations, and service and mission opportunities, among other aspects of student life at Saint Louis University.
"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 successful 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.
"I think it's really innovative," said Katlyn Martin, president of SLU's Student Government Association. "By interacting with technology in a cool way, our students will have another resource to find things to do on campus, to meet other people and to take advantage of the holistic Jesuit education that Saint Louis University offers."
While other colleges have placed voice services in select student living spaces or are making them available to students upon request, as another 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.
"Amazon Web Services is proud to work with SLU to provide students with quick access to important information, making them feel more comfortable and confident around campus and in the classroom," said Andrew Ko, director of education at AWS. "We applaud SLU's commitment to using technology like Amazon Alexa to enhance campus life for its students."
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