College students always have many questions, for which finding answers becomes tough. However, students these days have it easy – all they have to do is call on Alexa to remind them about their appointments, projects, and classes. The mental energy that goes into finding answers to the questions can be sucked right away from them, thus, leaving none at all for studying, working or even planning.
Northeastern University understands the importance of some outside help – especially in the form of Alexa – and has incorporated it in a way that will improve students’ experience by helping them unload their cognitive pressure. Every incoming freshman is given an Amazon Echo Dot application, put forth by Northeastern’s spin-off called ‘n-Powered’. This application has an Echo Skill by the name of Husky Helper and it helps answer common questions the students may have by picking up information from across the University.
N-Powered put forth a pilot study of the Husky Helper, conducting a survey with the help of around 60 University students. The positive feedback gathered was then compiled in a video. “I used Husky Helper to figure out who my academic advisor was, which was really helpful because my advisor changed three times throughout the semester,” said freshman Elizabeth Hilli, who studies criminal justice and psychology.
Somen Saha and Joel Evans are co-founders of n-Powered, who tailored the Husky Helper pilot according to students’ feedback recorded over the past three years. They made the platform which will have every answer to the questions in one place. “This makes space for creative and reflective thought that ultimately leads to learning and innovation,” said Madeleine Estabrook. She is the vice president for student affairs and therefore, supports this initiative.
N-Powered has made an extensive all-in-one stop for the many data sources present in the University, which is “obfuscated end-to-end”, meaning that the data is heavily encrypted. “The goal is for students to get quick answers so they can spend their time being creative and innovative and entrepreneurial,” said Estabrook.