So, you’ve got the scoop on Google Voice, and you see how it can enhance communication in your life.  What about your classroom?  Why not use it with your learners?  Let’s start brainstorming how you can use the features of Google Voice as an educational tool.

With Google Voice, learners can call in and leave messages that can be emailed, downloaded as .mp3 files, or embedded in web sites using the included html code.  Basically, it’s a way to create audio recordings, without the need for a computer or mic.  Many classrooms and labs are set up with headsets with microphones or laptops with internal mics.  Still, many are not.  When you think about how many kids have the equipment at home, the chances are even lower.  How many kids do you know that have access to a phone?  Heck, many of them even have their own cell these days.  Enter Google Voice.  Let’s roll with this and see what we can do.

  • Vocabulary: Learners can speak sentences or paragraphs that demonstrate knowledge of vocabulary words.  You could even embed these in a class website, to serve as review/reference materials.
  • Audio Study Guide: Instead of having a class scribe, enhance the role by giving one learner the task of calling in the content, creating an audio archive.  You can rotate learners, so they each get the chance to serve in the role.  Embed each message into a website to serve as an audio study guide over the content.
  • Math Solutions: To demonstrate understanding of a topic or the solution to a problem, the learners can talk it out.  When I was a math teacher, I would have loved this as form of assessment that allowed me inside the kids’ heads.
  • Foreign Language: Kids can call in and read a paragraph or speak sentences, allowing you to hear how proficient they are and diagnose areas where improvement is needed.  It could be used as oral responses to teacher questions or to recite pre-written material to assess their reading and pronunciation abilities.
  • Audio Field Trip Journal: Have kids leave messages throughout the field trip that documents their experiences.
  • Speech: Learners can record speeches via the phone.  Bonus: Take advantage of the voicemail transcription feature.  Assess learners’ enunciation by seeing how accurate Google Voice transcribes their messages.
  • Get in Character: Let the learners have fun by leaving messages in character.  Perhaps you’re studying historical figures or fictional characters.  Let the learners assume the role and record messages assuming that role.  I’d love to hear what the kids come up with when given this task!
  • Podcasting: Since the voicemails can be embedded in websites or downloaded, this would be a super simple way to record a podcast!
  • Work the Custom Greetings: Since Google Voice lets you have unique greetings for different groups of callers, you could create a greeting personalized specifically for your students.  Kids can call in to receive homework tips, announcements, upcoming test information, or other class reminders.
  • Reflection Tool: Get rid of those spiral notebooks that have been serving as journals since I was an elementary student over 20 years ago.  After a class discussion or project presentation, have the learners record a reflection via Google Voice.  It’s paperless!
  • Announcements or Audio Newsletters: Instead of creating a printed class newsletter, why not call your own Google Voice number and leave a message consisting of a class announcement or audio newsletter?  Then, simply embed it on your class website for parents and learners to access.

This sounds like a good start to a long list of ideas for using Google Voice in the classroom.  I’m already feeling those wheels turn, just thinking of other ways to use Google Voice with learners.  I am sure you all can come up with tons of other ways to use this with kids.  I’d love to hear your ideas!