Gettysburg College

How Gettysburg College Brings IoT to Education With dotCMS

How a liberal arts college provides Alexa Skills to simplify the lives of its students using Content as a Service.


The Pennsylvania-based Gettsyburg College was established in 1832 for students to pursue personal and professional fulfillment. While the liberal arts college has been around for a long time, that doesn't stop Gettysburg from innovating with technology.

Forward-thinking students began requesting that the college take advantage of Amazon Echo to make their lives easier. Gettysburg realized through the task of supporting IoT, it could transform how it creates, manages, and delivers content for the future. The college knew if it was going to offer information through IoT devices, however, it needed a new content management system that was up to the task.

The Need for a Headless CMS

Gettysburg College needed a CMS that wouldn't restrict content for use on only websites and smartphones. Generating content is expensive, so the college wanted to easily reuse content for different channels without having to recreate it. This required a headless CMS that could store content completely separate from the presentation layer, and deliver it to a variety of devices - including Amazon Echo - through robust APIs. For this, Gettsyburg College looked to platforms with Content as a Service out of the box.


When we had computers connected to the internet, our content was presented in one fashion and that was made visually through a web browser. And with the development of the smartphone, we had to shift our content into a different format but it was still visual. With the IoT and the introduction of Siri and Alexa, we had to think of Content-as-a-Service.

Rod Tosten | VP of Information Technology

dotCMS and Content as a Service

The college chose dotCMS because the APIs available were straightforward and secure. Developers could easily interact with the CMS using the large set of web services and detailed documentation. dotCMS also had the flexibility in creating content models that let Gettysburg's developers reformat visual content for an audio-based Alexa conversation. 

These features enabled the university to build interactive Alexa Skills quickly, and deliver information that its students wanted to Amazon Echo devices. After development, the Alexa Skills were made available in the app store for students to use.

Alexa Skills at Gettysburg College

With Gettysburg College's new Alexa Skills, students can use the voice devices to get everything from dining menus to a calendar of campus-wide events. Not only has this simplified the lives of students, but it completely changed the way the college thinks about content. Gettysburg believes that the shift in how the college publishes information to a variety of devices has completely future-proofed its content.

Gettysburg looks to expand its Alexa Skills to include a phone directory and college news. Along with deliver more content to the devices, the college believes personalization is the next step for IoT, by using AI to organize and process information better. Gettysburg is confident that dotCMS can deliver content to emerging technologies and scale to meet its future content demands.

"The future is smarter devices...

...If we look at voice assistants on smartphones, the concept was [the user] asks one question, and the search would be executed for them. But today, we’re having actual conversations [with voice assistants]. AI will be the next step which will be integrated into these devices. It will help us organize the data in a better format and process it more accurately."

Rod Tosten | VP of Information Technology
Gettysburg College