This Teacher Texts: Using Google Voice With Students

   When I left the Google Teacher Academy in July, one tool I was anxious to try out with my students was Google Voice. For those of you who don't know about it, Google Voice is a great free service that allows students and teachers to connect via text message and voice calls. There are a variety of options for how you set up a Google Voice account and myriad ways to use it. This post is based on my experience. Your mileage may vary. And there are a lot of other great ways teachers are using it too.
    I opted to select a new number for my GV account. I only connected it to my cell phone and not my home phone. I gave my students the number and told them they could text or call me.
    The kids were a bit surprised when I asked them to get their cell phones out on the first day of school and put in my GV number.  "Wait, we can really text you?"
     "Yes, yes you can."
     After that, the questions began to trickle in. Some were urgent pleas about dramatic life events, a death in the family, a house fire, a broken leg. Others were more typical, lost passwords, problems uploading a presentation, questions about missed work. Some times I could help, sometimes I couldn't.
     Never once have I felt like a student's text was an imposition on my time. I am always glad when I can answer their questions. And they are always polite and appreciative. As I scroll through my GV messages, my inbox displays just the last message exchanged; almost all of them say, "Okay, thank you."
    Google Voice has been such an easy way to make myself available to students. It's free. (GV is separate from you cell phone text messages.)  It takes hardly any time to set up and manage. It does not impinge on my privacy. It's possible to set up 'Do Not Disturb' hours, but I haven't had to do that. I don't see why more teachers aren't using it. Most don't even seem to know about it.  I went to a regional CUE conference recently. There were five sessions about Google tools. Four of them were packed, but the session on Google Voice had just two people in it. Teachers, even tech savvy teachers, just aren't aware enough about this really useful tool.

    If you are thinking of trying GV here are a few more things I really like about it. The text messages go to both my phone and my g-mail.  If I am at my computer I can respond to the mail and the student will get the reply as a text.  If someone leaves me a voice-mail on my GV number the transcript of that call goes to my email. The voice recognition is not perfect, but it helps.
   While I was one of those two participants in the GV session at the CUE conference I learned about teachers having students phone in their reading samples. Students can call your GV number and record their presentation or podcast. You can embed that recording on a site or blog.
   You can learn more about Google Voice here. I encourage you to try it with your students and let me know how it goes.

Comments

  1. Good post. I'm glad to see at least one teacher is using the new technologies in a positive way. Text messaging is here to stay and needs to become part of the classroom. A better way to coordinate everything at your end though is available at http://getseconds.com.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I did this with my classes this year. So far all calls questions have been work related and appropriate. My only question is can students send pictures they take to this account- so far, I have not been able to receive the photos of lab results- I can see that the attempt was made- but not the pictures.
    Thanks for the article- it is what got me started!
    Kathy

    ReplyDelete
  3. I did this with my classes this year. So far all calls questions have been work related and appropriate. My only question is can students send pictures they take to this account- so far, I have not been able to receive the photos of lab results- I can see that the attempt was made- but not the pictures.
    Thanks for the article- it is what got me started!
    Kathy

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have used GV for 6 semesters. Very few students have used it. The majority preferred Blackboard and now, this semester, Canvas. When they do use text, the questions are appropriate. None have been "emergencies" and when I am driving and don't get back for a couple of hours, students still appreciate the "rapid" response time even though it is the same time frame for other communication channels. My syllabus requests college level grammar and spelling for email, text, and Skype. Everyone that uses text has complied. In a few cases we have had running text dialogue about an issue that goes over more than one day. This semester is the first semester that a student refused to provide their name in their first text but provided enough information so I know it is a student and their class. Still won't provide a name. I guess I know the phone number is as it shows and the approximate location. It makes no difference to me what channel they use to contact me and I wonder, now, why I prefer to have a name in the first text.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment on this post. If you have an urgent question you may want to reach out to me on Twitter @JenRoberts1.

Comments on this blog are moderated for posts more than five days old to cut down on spam, so if you are commenting on an older post it may not appear right away.