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MIT Students Set up Voice Apps with Web-Based Toolkit

A design course at MIT has tapped a software donation from a company that sells interactive voice response systems to help students learn how to create voice applications. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's School of Engineering recently completed the first offering of its two-semester course, "Engineering Innovation and Design," which called on students to identify a real-world problem that could be solved using speech recognition applications and then to build the solution.

Students used Site Builder, a Web-based toolkit from that allows users to point and click through a set of menu options to set up a voice menu design, caller data collection, and outbound campaigns management.

Among the projects created were applications to find an appropriate restaurant based on rating, price, and location; to locate a skate shop or skate park based on rider style and location preferences; and to get directions to the closest bathroom in a particular building on campus.

"This class was such a huge success that students have joined the [engineering] program because of it," said Blade Kotelly, guest instructor. "If Apple made an interface for designing speech applications, it would be the Site Builder toolkit. There's no better tool for designing voice applications. It's as easy to use as my iPhone. In fact, I had students with zero coding experience producing applications in minutes, so I had to make the homework assignments more difficult!"

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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