Google Voice seems intimidating, but really it's not too complicated. It is a phone number that you clim through the use of your Google account that allows you to send and receive calls through your computer and other phones you have. You can actually set up Google voice to ring other phone lines that you have and interestingly, you can set that up based on the time of day. Google voice can also be set up to ring no phones but only to notify you on your computer of a call. I have a Google voice number on both my personal and work Google accounts. As I travel throughout the day to different buildings, it helps for people to be able to connect with me wherever I happen to be. I have it set so that my computer will alert me to a call and if I do not answer the call, I receive an alert that I have a message and the message is transcribed to text for me to read. If I am in a meeting, teaching or otherwise unable to talk, I can still be made aware of the contents of the call without disrupting others. I have been walking through a hallway and received and answered a call on my computer from Google Voice. Setting it up is simple and accessed through Google.com/voice.
What does this all look like in a classroom setting? Here a just a few ideas I had:
- Communication - This seems like an easy one. This number offered to parents with boundaries could be a means of communication for families. By boundaries I mean I will not pick up calls between the hours of 9-3 (or whatever you are willing to offer) but I do value the communication, so please leave me a message and I will return the call.
- Texting - While there are texting services out there that are fantastic, www.remind101.com, Google voice does have a text feature that would allow you to text a student and with Voice, a student could text you back. Students could text a response to you as an exit slip response before leaving class. You have a digital record on your computer that could be saved of the text.
- For Assessment - I have students working in the Innovation Center each week that are a part of an online foreign language class. These kids have to send recordings to their teacher of verbal responses in Spanish to assignments given by the teacher. Another teacher in my district records using iPods in the hallways. With Google Voice, students could call in their work to the Google voice number. The teacher would have recordings in the Google Voice Message center that are also date and time stamped. The message left can be downloaded and saved.
- For projects - While there are other tools out there that allow students to record voice, it is another tool that could be used to record a student's voice for projects in class as you can then save each recording.
- Transcripts - In collecting student work verbally, you have a transcript of the message that is left that is editable and also save-able. If Google does not transcribe properly, you can edit so that it is correct, and then save it.
- Portfolio - As I have used this with my children I sometimes smile as I listen to an older message from my children. As younger children work on fluency in the classroom, a teacher could be calling their own Voice number and recording the student reading aloud several times a year and saving the recordings as a portfolio sample of fluency. How precious for parents to also have these files!
- Accountability - Teachers are always working with students to at least let them know if there is something that they are unable to complete for class rather than to show up and claim they didn't understand something. Have students leave you a Google Voice message if they are confused with an assignment or homework. You have a record of the date and time the call came in as well as recording of their issue. For some kids it is hard to put into an email why they are struggling but being able to tell you in a call might make the difference.
- Assistive Technology - We all now that there are times when you have a student with a disability, injury or need that requires them to be able to submit work differently. If they can read something to you, leave a response, text the answer, Google Voice might just be the answer for them. A vision impaired student might really benefit from the ability to leave a voice response.
I am excited to explore even more ideas for this tool in classrooms. I would love to hear other ideas for Google Voice.