Friday, April 12, 2013

Google Voice: Not Your Mother's Voice Service

This is a repost from one first composed in April 2012 at EdReach.
In everyday life, the Google Voice service is a way to combine all your numbers into one and to conveniently receive voice messages. ListenIn™ even helps you decide which calls to answer after the caller has started to leave a message.
Teachers can use a GVoice number for parents without giving away their primary phone number. Easily created custom voicemail greetings for parents and a different greeting for students make messages personalized and relevant. Educators can put a call widget for a GVoice number on their website making home-school connections even easier. Visit for more information and to request an invitation.
My students have always enjoyed using GVoice for recording everything from interviews with veterans or local legislators to reports for podcasts. Downloaded mp3 files from the interface make it easy to use and post the audio in a different place. Teachers can easily edit and add pictures for an enhanced podcast.
Educators have been known to get darn creative when it comes to free tools. Most recently, we’ve enjoyed Google Voice for dictation purposes. Many of our students with special needs have great ideas but not the dexterity to get them on paper. They’ve seen success with the speech-to-text capabilities in Google Voice. Prior to the use of GVoice, adults were taking dictation so students could complete homework assignments on time. Google provided a dual solution: empowering students to complete this work independently and improving their fluency at the same time. Students quickly figured out they would have fewer corrections to make if they spoke clearly. Going into high school, our students now have one more tool in their problem-solving kit, as well as the bonus of a virtual portfolio showing growth and progress. Finally, using Google Voice in this way has freed up adult time to work with students in more meaningful ways.
Using GVoice for students with special needs has led to other creative uses. Vocabulary words with definitions and applications have helped auditory learners retain and recall information more readily. Creation of these sound glossaries have helped kinesthetic learners with their retention as well.
The excitement around Google Voice has been contagious. Foreign language teachers have encouraged students to use it for both practice and assessment. In other classes students are documenting their field trips and other events with audio files.
When minds open, so do policies. As a result of Google Voice use, we’re seeing more open policies about the application of student devices during the school day. As teachers see simple relevance for mobile learning, more creativity seems to be the next step. It won’t be long before the excitement spreads even further.