Google Voice (http://voice.google.com) allows you to sign up for a Google phone number and connect multiple phones to that phone number. You can have it set up to call your classroom phone, cell phone, and home phone all at the same time. Thus ensuring you never miss a call. What I love is that I can use Google Voice for text messaging and voice mail transcription. If someone texts me to my Google Voice it goes to my phone, my email and my voice.google.com inbox. Voicemails are transcribed so I never have to listen to voicemail. The transcriptions are not perfect, but they are good enough. I see the transcription as a text message to my phone, my email and the Google Voice inbox.
Here are 5 things you can do with Google Voice as a teacher.
1) Student Responders
Google Voice works great for having students answer questions. The first thing I ask the students to do is text me their name. On my computer I go to http://voice.google.com and click the add button to enter the students name. This is a very quick process.
When students text me to my Google Voice number I am able to see their name. I like to leave the sound on my phone on when the student answers are coming in, my mobile device starts to go off like a slot machine. I can shout out “Good Job Amy” “Good Job Jose.” Students love getting a positive shout out in class. If a student made a mistake I can quietly text back with “you forgot a negative” or other friendly hint. Students get helpful feedback without being embarrassed in front of the class.
2) Embed Students Answers
Students can use the classroom phone to call my Google Voice. I go into the Google Voice settings and set it to do not disturb status so that when students call it goes straight to voicemail. Students can then describe their answer to question or problem. The voicemail is saved in Google Voice with an option to get the embed code for the recording. Click on the “more” options from the Google Voice inbox.
Use the embed code on your website to allow students to hear from each other.
3) Record MP3’s for Podcasting
Voicemails can be downloaded as an MP3. This is an easy way to have students conduct a podcast. Students call the Google Classroom number and leave a voicemail. Use the “more” options to download the voice file. This can be edited in audio programs such as GarageBand.
4) Record Interviews
Google Voice allows you to record a phone interview. If a student wants to connect with a scientist or someone in the field about their project they can call them through Google Voice. Pressing 4 during the call enables call recording. The call can be embedded into a student project or downloaded as an MP3 to allow for editing.
You must enable calling options to allow for recording phone calls. Click on the settings cog in the upper right hand corner. Click on the “Calls” tab. Towards the bottom is the option to “Enable Recording.” Choose this option.
5) Communicate with Parents
Google Voice allows you to give out your phone number to parents without giving out your actual phone number. You can organize parents into circles or groups and record a unique voicemail message if they call. You can use to this to record class announcements and reminders. For example if you are expecting to receive several parent phone calls about the class field trip but are unable to take calls for a period of time you can record the important information into a special greeting.
You can record multiple voicemail greetings that can be your default greeting or the one that will play for people who are in particular groups. Organize parent phone numbers into groups such as “after school dance club” and “math students.” The parents of the math students do not need to hear about where the dance club is meeting on Saturday.
Record greetings by going into the settings and clicking on the “Voicemail & Text” tab. You can record multiple greetings and they are saved under a drop down menu. You can assign the voicemail greeting under the “Groups & Circles” tab.
Going into the settings of Google Voice you can find the “Do Not Disturb” option. If you are attending a play or going out to dinner in the evening you can set your Google Voice settings to do not disturb. You can set the number of minutes or hours the do not disturb is enabled. This allows parents to still leave you a voicemail message. The message is transcribed and texted to you to make it easy to respond when you are able.