Teaching with Google Voice

If you missed the announcement yesterday, Google Voice is now available to everyone in the US. Google Voice is an outstanding service that I’ve been using for about a year. In short, when you sign up, you receive a phone number that you can direct to any of your phones at any time. Furthermore, it transcribes voicemail messages, can forward voicemails and texts to phones and email, and even let you embed the voicemails on a website.
I was speaking yesterday with @cuevash on Twitter and he mentioned that he was trying to get foreign language teachers to use Google Voice. This got me thinking about how we can integrate this service.

  1. Pronunciation Practice. This can be excellent for foreign language and ELL students. If they call your Google Voice number, they can speak or read a passage, which will be saved to your voicemail. You can, one-on-one or as part of a whole class activity, review the students’ recording and offer guidance. Also helpful, students can call their own Google Voice number and use it for their own reflection. All this can be done without expensive microphones.
  2. Homework Hotline. Not every student has access to a computer at home, but almost all have access to at least a land-line phone or a parents’ cell phone. This can enable them to have access to help when they need it. I am not suggesting that you have your students call your at 1 in the morning (I noticed that as the time most work was turned in on Moodle two years ago.). Google Voice has a nice “Do Not Disturb” feature that you can turn on in the settings. This will send all calls to voicemail. You are then able to respond as soon as you are able. What might be more helpful, though, is to have a department or grade level Google Voice number. For example, if any student has a problem with English, they can call the English Google Voice number. On Monday, that might go to my phone. On Tuesday, it could go to another phone. With 1 number, any amount of students could have access to help.
  3. Notes/Reminders. This one is difficult as it requires cell phones to be allowed in your class/school. I do not see any reason why students cannot dictate some notes, especially in a science class, or leave themselves reminders, which would be transcribed for them and waiting in their email and/or Google Voice inbox.

What am I missing? I know that there are other good ideas. How else might we be able to implement this powerful tool to make it useful to students?

4 comments to Teaching with Google Voice

  • Andrew Marcinek
    Twitter: andycinek

    These are great ideas Jason! I plan on incorporating Google Voice into my entire school next year. I used it this year and it helped greatly with parent communication and student homework help line. My students could always access me, and I could read my voicemails rather than have to pick up the phone all the time. Plus, it allows for no excuses from students saying they couldn’t get in touch with you. You are now everywhere!
    Andrew Marcinek´s last blog post ..The Grassroots PD Movement

  • Jason Bedell
    Twitter: jasontbedell

    Thanks Andrew. It can really put some of the responsibility back onto the student by making ourselves more accessible to them. Good luck with the roll-out.

  • Jason Bedell
    Twitter: jasontbedell

    rpetersmauri on Twitter, just offered the great idea of leaving yourself a message, then embedding it on a course website. This could be a great way to leave directions for students, on an independent project or when a substitute is teaching.

  • ktenkely
    Twitter: ktenkely

    Great ideas! What about for fluency practice so emerging readers can record and listen to their fluency, voice, and annunciation as they read.

    I am loving the idea of a homework help line!
    ktenkely´s last blog post ..A Walk in the Forest

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