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We Asked Students On Voice Assistants — Results Might Surprise You | by Ipervox | Feb, 2021

We’re just beginning to understand the potential of voice technologies. Voice is the ultimate interface. It’s part of what we are as humans and it’s how we communicate. There’s almost no learning curve like it is with typing. It helps machines adapt to people rather than the other way around. And yet, we are still very far from fully grasping the potential of voice technologies.

Unfortunately, most of us still live in Voice 1.0. We’re mostly just commanding our devices to carry out simple tasks, like setting alarms. This is just the beginning of what’s possible. For the education industry, there are many reasons to use voice technology. Students gain easy access to university information. They can use voice technology to gain real-world expertise. It seems imperative for universities to start using university assistants.

Having a voice assistant for university students includes a lot of benefits when it comes to efficiency. People tend to speak faster than they type. Thus, having a voice assistant would free up time when doing repetitive tasks as setting timers or reminding students. They are a huge investment when it comes to digital equity.

Instead of providing devices for the whole class of students, universities can place one device per auditor. Furthermore, voice assistants for universities enhance communal learning. All students are hearing the same information at the same time while maintaining eye contact.

Ipervox conducted a study with data from 1360 skills with bad reviews. According to it, the most common problems users have with skills include broken functionality (35.56%) and bad user experiences (14.16%). There are other stats derived from this analysis, like: skills have outdated information (2.8%), skills are useless (6.5%) they were not performing as per their description (3%), etc.

Common problems users have with voice skills

Do these results apply in voice assistant for universities? Ipervox conducted a survey over a two-week period among almost 50 respondents to understand the usage of voice assistants in universities. The average respondent was 23 years old and the gender distribution was 72.1% male and 27.9% female.

The questions within the case study aid universities in planning Alexa for business and to focus on business-related aspects. Building a plan will give a clear idea of what is necessary for building the voice application. The results of the case study will help universities understand what it takes to have a successful voice assistant.

1. How Chatbots and Email Marketing Integration Can Help Your Business

2. Why Chatbots could be the next big thing for SMEs

3. My Journey into Conversation Design

4. Practical NLP for language learning

Ipervox conducted around 50 surveys with university students in order to understand their current usage of already built voice assistants and what could be improved for the future. The results showed that the usage of actual voice assistants was low, almost 87% of the students did not use their university assistant.

Usage of university voice assistants

In overall, the university taken into study was not consistent in their website content and app information. As a result, the voice application could confuse students. We found out that before developing a voice app, each university must update all the info on their website and applications. On the other hand, all faculty members should disseminate the information in the same way. As such, it should be easier for students to find through categorization of information by using voice assistants.

Students use voice assistants as a time and energy saver. It noticeably reduces the time and energy people spend crouched over books, staring at displays, waiting in lines at administrative offices, and anticipating their professors’ arrival to get work done and answers. But if asked, what would they suggest to improve? According to the study, students want to improve the way they get information regarding:

The added options were booking areas, helping students with internships, helping students with the information regarding the canteen menu.

Areas in which voice assistants need improvement

When asked about where they would use the voice, students told us they’d like to use it mostly at home, and then on campus. This led us to identify our user persona for these users, so that we could build a skill that is adjusted to both places, but to me more home oriented. Regarding the best suitable time to use it, students mostly preferred to use it in the morning before starting their day. The second best suggestion would be in the afternoon to recap what they need to do for the upcoming day.

The usage of voice assistants

The voice design should be based on student needs when it comes to the education industry. What Ipervox found out through this case study is that most of the students expect the following from their university voice assistant:

Students’ needs for voice assistants

The list of preferred tasks include notification for the next submission, information about an event, and adding something to the calendar. Additional requirements were related to possible job vacancies, exam marks or record a classroom.

Voice assistants for doing options

Searching for something is the second on utility percentage based on voice utility spectrum. What should universities keep in mind about that? The most preferred searches were about grades and submissions.

Voice assistants for searching options

When it comes to telling something, students preferred that their voice assistant could give information about next semester courses or extracurricular activities. Other suggestions included professor common questions, next lesson, discount percentage from affiliated clubs etc.

Voice assistants for telling options
  • Navigate something (39.5%)

Most students use their voice assistants for all the navigation options given to them in the survey. Why is this helpful? Universities might need to reconsider the strategy of making a voice app in order to make it more appealing to students.

Voice assistants for navigation options

Is voice technology replacing the old methods? According to the results gathered from the case study, students would like that their voice assistants help them while checking:

  • Lessons / Timetables
  • Room availability / classrooms
  • Events
  • Exam dates and location
  • Booking a place or booking an interview
  • Canteen menu
  • Shuttle services

What is repetitive should be optimized into efficiency and what is done with the old technological ways, should be replaced with voice technologies.

Different ways are used to implement the usage of voice applications. One of the common ways to do it is through Amazon Echo devices. They come preloaded with Amazon Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, to access all the information. All that is left to do is create the voice application that enables the students to request and receive that information. This is made possible by Alexa for Business, a tool that allows every business, academic institution, or individual to create an Alexa Skill fit for their use case.

Saint Louis University is one of the universities to have implemented such voice technologies to benefit students. To make it happen, SLU bought 2,300 Echo Dots directly from Amazon for their students’ dorm rooms. The devices are already with an Alexa voice app or Skill enabled (“SLU”). This Skill allows students to reach all the information needed concerning what’s going on on-campus. Their Alexa Skill can answer approximately 150 questions related to the campus. They intend to add more questions and answers based on students’ requests.

What about other universities? For their engineering students, Arizona State University distributed 1,600 Amazon Echo Dots in one of the residences. They have also customized their voice assistant to assist students with Down Syndrome through their studies.

The University of Oklahoma, while hosting a hackathon contest, encouraged students to develop Alexa Skills that would be useful to their university students. It granted 600 Echo devices to its residential students.

Also, Northeastern University, in collaboration with a developing company, developed an Alexa Skill named “ Husky Helper “. This Skill was made available not only for the students with Amazon Echo devices but for any student with a smartphone.

As can be noted above, all these universities have used Amazon Alexa while implementing a voice assistant for their students’ benefit. However, creating an effective and all-inclusive voice application for a University can be difficult and requires a lot of preparation and data. This is where Ipervox can help you. Ipervox is an online platform dedicated to the creation of Alexa Skills in the best way possible. Ipervox allows businesses to create their voice app from the designing process to implementation and then maintenance. Suppose you are a University that wants to implement this new technology to assist on a student’s journey. In that case, you can create an Alexa Skill with Ipervox by taking into consideration every detail.

All you need to do is to contact us, and we will take care of the rest.

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