Google Voice is a service from Google that allows you to have a phone number that you can forward to any and all of your phones. The service is free and it is super easy to get started. Today we will talk about what Google Voice is and how we can use it in the classroom.
What is Google Voice?
Here is a video from Google Explaining it (because they do a better job than me 🙂 )
Here is a quick screencast I did talking about google voice as well as a short tour: Google Voice Overview
But why do I need it?
1. Flexibility- One of the perks of Google Voice is having one phone number that rings all of your other numbers. This includes your work phone, other cell phones or even inside your Gmail account via Google Chat. This way you never have to give students your actual phone number. You can also set do not disturb so you do not have students calling you in the wee hours in the morning.
2. Recording to .MP3- The problem with voicemail on your phone is you have to sort through several voice mails to get to the one you want and sometimes they “disappear” from your phone after a certain time. Google voice records your voicemail and provides you with an easy to use interface to browse through your voicemails. Also the fact that they are MP3’s makes them easy to share (email) and backup.
3. Protection- Google Voice allows you to have a record of everything from text messages to phone calls. If you have an angry parent, you have proof of what was said to give to your administrator. Also you now have records of any text messages you sent and received.
4. New phone? No problem- Your Google voice numbers stays the same all the time. When you get a new phone all you have to do is add it to your Google voice dashboard.
5. FREE- Google Voice is a free service from google. All you need is a Gmail account or a Google Apps for EDU account. One side note about the Google Apps account is it is tied to the domain so if you ever leave the district that your Google voice number stays there.
Here are a few tips that I use to make my Google Voice more manageable.
1. Add a “Call Me” widget to your site. You will see on the right hand side of my site has a call me button. This allows me to advertise my number without the fear of being bombarded with phone calls from telemarketers. You can find this code by going to your settings and clicking on “Call Me Widget”.
2. On my work account I checked the box that says “Google Chat” (under Settings -> Phones) so when my Google Voice number rings it will ring inside gmail and I can answer it. This helps for those times when you have no cell service but you do have internet on your computer.
3. I use two Gmail Labs features, “Google Voice player in mail” which allows you to playback messages right in gmail without having go login to your google voice account or download the MP3 onto your computer. Everything is accessible in the browser. I also use the “Video chat enhancements”, in the description it doesn’t say anything about Google Voice improvements but I have noticed improvements by enabling it.
For more ideas about using google voice check out Lisa Nielson’s blog (@InnovativeEdu) where she wrote about ideas in the classroom in 2010.
Do you use Google Voice in or out of the classroom?
If you have any questions, call me!