I’m not sure if I am the last person to find out about Google Voice. If I am, I apologize for this post. If you haven’t heard of Google Voice, you may really like what this tool can do in your classroom.
Google Voice will assign a phone number that you can set to ring to any phone(s) you want, keeping the other phone number private. You can answer the phone or set up the number to go to an online voicemail. An email will be sent to notify you of any calls. You can also use the number to send SMS.
Here are some plans I have for my Google number. I loved Gabcast, but now that it is a paid service, I look to replace it with Google voice. I will give the number (you can also embed a Google Voice widget on your blog or wiki) to the students to use with oral homework. My students will call the number, complete the oral assignment given, and I can go online to grade it when I have the time.
I have found that very few students check their email, however they use texting on a daily basis. This would be another way to communicate with them. Last year we were off for 3-4 consecutive snow days. I had some activities I wanted the kids to do for extra credit during their time off, but only a few found out about it because only a few checked email. I believe you can set up groups and send a group text through this number, so Google Voice would allow a teacher to get information to students via their phones.
If you anticipate students needing some additional help on a specific project outside of school, this number could also come in handy. Alli Flowers (who brought this service to my attention) sets the number to ring at specific times for this purpose.
Please let me know how you use Google Voice in your class. For those of you interested in using this service, you do need to request an invitation, and unfortunately the numbers are only available in the US.