BMCC InfoDesk

InfoDesk is an Alexa skill that provides college students with a virtual information front desk assistant.

Motivation

We are community college students, and we are not alone. There are actually approximately 7.4 million undergraduate students that are enrolled at a CC. We are actually 46% of the undergraduate population in the United States. The majority of us are first-generation college students or did not have the financial aid to receive tutoring for the SAT's. Due to the many issues, CC students face in their daily lives the mere thought of being part of the college community is wild. Around 41% of cc students work full-time in addition to full-time studies. In addition to this, community colleges do not help students discover campus events, activities or resources that could potentially connect students together. Our team has experienced that sometimes there may be events at the main campus or workshops that we may be interested in but by the time we find out it is already too late because usually, we find out when we see it happening. That is why we wanted to make a tool that helps students easily discover any campus events or activities. We believed that if we are able to help students know about upcoming events they will eventually discover people at these events and connect with other students. Furthermore, 12% of students at community college students have some kind of disability, therefore, we decided to integrate general information that can be provided to students that perhaps cannot necessarily visit the school or feel uncomfortable asking questions.
reference: https://www.readspeaker.com/blog/industries/learning/10-facts-about-community-college-students

Features

InfoDesk was developed using Node.js, DynamoDB, Cheerio, Moment, Axios, AWS and ASK. We divided the functionality of this skill in three sections, which we believe may be the most commonly asked to an actual human front desk assistant.

  • School Events: Provides the upcoming events, including the title, location and time.
  • School Calendar: Provides the most important deadlines or dates for the current school semester.
  • Departments Locations: Provides the location of every department in the school's directory.
  • Social Issues: Provides a random fact about social issues affecting students every time the session ends.

We believe that by integrating the social issues random fact feature we will be able to make students be aware that social issues are real and are affecting many students especially community college students.

Challenges we ran into

We primarily struggled with retrieving the correct data for the correct handlers, most of the times DynamoDB would retrieve the data from different places. We resolved this issue by dividing data into tables and creating primary keys.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  • Setting up a functional DynamoDB.
  • Scrapping data from websites.
  • Learning how to control JSON files using node.js

Technologies Used

Libraries

  • ask-sdk
  • aws-sdk
  • Cheerio
  • Moment
  • Axios

Services

  • AWS DynamoDB
  • AWS Lambda
  • Alexa Console

What is next for InfoDesk

We hope to keep working on this project and eventually develop a companion app that allows users to register for the events, upload their own calendar and

Share this project:

Updates