Alexa Usage Decreasing as Students Turn to Alternative Options

Photo+Courtesy+of+Trenton+Almgren-Davis
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Alexa Usage Decreasing as Students Turn to Alternative Options

Photo Courtesy of Trenton Almgren-Davis

Photo Courtesy of Trenton Almgren-Davis

Photo Courtesy of Trenton Almgren-Davis

Photo Courtesy of Trenton Almgren-Davis

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Saint Louis University became one of the first schools in the nation to outfit every resident hall and on-campus apartments with Amazon Echo Dot smart speakers in summer 2019. While the achievement was widely acknowledged by media outlets and the SLU community, administration faces minimal usage amongst students. 

Students either gave up on the idea of having an always on smart speaker in their living space while others say that having such voice assistance readily available to them is beneficial for everyday tasks. The “Ask SLU” skill allows students to get answers to over 300 questions specifically related to the campus, such as inquiring about the library hours, Billiken athletics or to track where the next shuttle will arrive. SLU also recently published a press statement detailing enhancements coming to the Ask SLU skill, which will allow students to chat with Alexa through text messages on their phones and use web-based chat interface. Despite these enhancements, most students reported that they have never heard of such skill but also chose not to use Alexa entirely. “I think it’s because I have a phone and a computer that I actively use every day and that I’ve never see a need for third source to ask questions” said Lauren Tubbe, a freshmen student living on campus who has access to SLU’s Echo Dot speaker. “I heard them talk about it at a welcome weekend but I found those information from other avenues” Tubbe added. On the other hand, Maggie Williams, also a residential student with SLU’s Echo Dot reported that “I heard about Ask SLU but probably forgot about it”, she said. Williams noted that she mainly uses her Echo Dot to use it as a speaker, ask random questions, set a timer and play trivia games. “SLU should put it out there more or offer directions on how to use their skill”, Williams added. The Ask SLU skill will be available to non-SLU managed Alexa enabled devices, offering the same capabilities, but only the time will tell if such investment will prove useful over time.