Inspiration

One of my favorite school memories was of my literature class where we had intimate discussions on books and short stories together. Not only was it a fun way to learn, it was a smart way to learn. "[T]he dual action of speaking and hearing oneself... has the most beneficial impact on memory," a study by the University of Waterloo found.

This project hopes to nurture discussion between Alexa and students.

What it does

  1. Provides review sessions on the first three chapters for free
  2. Goes over multiple-choice questions on the story and literary devices (symbolism, polysyndeton, etc.)
  3. Converses with the user in forming an answer to a free response question
  4. Lets customers review the rest of the book (chapters 4-9) through in-skill purchase

How it's built

  • Uses an intent-based dialog manager to handle chapter selections and multiple-choice question answers
  • Uses Alexa Conversations to handle answers to free response questions; this allows:
    • collection of multiple parts of a free response answer - who, what, where, when, why, and how
    • conversational memory without complicating the back-end
    • less time spent on dialog creation
  • Uses a Node.js back-end to delegate between the two dialog managers

Challenges I ran into

Learning how to use Alexa Conversations was a big challenge that I could not have overcome without the help of Justin Jeffress, Sam Ingbar, Nathan Grice, and the other wonderful people of the Alexa team.

What's next

  • A time when we can ask Alexa, "start a review session on Romeo and Juliet"
  • A time when we can ask Alexa, "start a review session on Night by Elie Wiesel"
  • A time when we can ask Alexa, "start a review session on Midnight's Children"

What I learned

When dealing with an input set as infinite as the English language, Alexa Conversations is a must-have tool.

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