Alexa Goes to College: Northeastern University Giving Echo Dots to Students

Northeastern University will offer its students this fall the option of receiving an Echo Dot customized to handle basic questions about student life at the Boston-based school.

The Echo Dots will come equipped with an Alexa skill, designed by tech startup n-Powered, that will allow them to ask questions, such as when their classes are scheduled, how much cash remains on their food cards, and how much they owe for tuition, according to USA Today. N-Powered plans to offer similar skills to other universities. The USA Today story didn’t specify whether the students would have to pay for the devices.

Northeastern, which piloted the new Alexa skill with about 60 students during the previous academic year, is hoping the Echo Dots will help reduce the flow of questions it routinely fields from students, which could mean less time for students waiting on hold for answers.

Last August, Arizona State University received 1,600 Echo Dots as a donation from Amazon to the school’s first-year engineering students. Those Dots also came with a customized Alexa skill built by Amazon. At the time, the company said it made the donation to help research the ways students use the voice-powered device.

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