Every Educator Needs Google Voice

June 29, 2010

Google recently opened its Voice service to all comers.  I’ve been using Google Voice for a little over a year, and I’ve recommended it many times to friends and colleagues.  Google gives you a new number, a unified voice mail box, and control.

I give my Google Voice number to everyone.  I put it on my syllabi, I list it on my resume, I hand it out on business cards, I share it in workshops, and I even post it online.  My Google Voice number is (501) 303 MOIX.

I have my Voice account set up to announce callers.  This feature is optional.  What happens when someone calls my Voice number depends entirely on their Caller ID information.

If it’s a new number…
the caller is greeted by “the Google Voice lady,” is asked to speak their name, and then hears ringing.  If the call is not answered, it is sent to voice mail.

If it’s a caller who has already given their name before of if their number appears in my Google Contacts list…
the caller simply hears ringing.  If the call is not answered, it is sent to voice mail.

Depending on who is calling and the time of day, some, none, or all of my phones ring.  When I answer, I hear the name of the caller and a list of options.  The primary options are to take the call or to send the caller to voice mail.  If I select voice mail, I still have the option to listen while the message is being recorded and break in if necessary.

Why is this a service that all educators should seriously consider?

Documentation
By default, all Google Voice activity is logged.  Dates, times, recorded names, and call durations are all easily accessible.  If someone sends a text message to your Voice number that you reply to, both the incoming and outgoing messages are preserved.  Voice messages will remain in your account until they are deleted, and thanks to the text transcriptions they are searchable by keyword.

Control
Giving your home or mobile number to parents provides them with a means to contact you outside of work hours, but sometimes people call at the strangest hours.  By defining the times that you will not take calls you control when calls go directly to voice mail.

Consistency
This falls into two categories.  First, if all of your contacts know to use your Google Voice number, you will avoid a situation where your private home or mobile number “gets out.”  People will soon find that the best way to reach you is through the new number.  Second, you can consolidate your GMail and Telephone contacts using Google’s comprehensive contacts system.  Create and manage only a single copy of everyone’s information.  If you use a smartphone, you can even sync Google Contacts back onto your mobile device.

In the end, Google Voice has many handy features that you can only appreciate once you’ve started using it.  Voice lets you initiate phone calls and text messages right from your browser.  If you are on a call that you picked up on your home phone you can quickly and quietly transfer that call to your mobile phone by pressing *.  If you are “in the zone” and need to hold all calls, you can enable Do Not Disturb which can be configured to turn itself off after a duration you choose.

Using voice is not without its challenges, though.  If you are out and about and want to place a call using your Voice number, you have to dial into that account and then key in the number to call.  Alternatively, you can use your phone’s mobile browser to initiate the call, but it still takes some effort.

Head over to http://voice.google.com and set up your account.  It’s free, and they let you pick your own number.

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4 Responses to “Every Educator Needs Google Voice”


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mrpotter. mrpotter said: Every Educator Needs Google Voice http://goo.gl/1z1S @moixland […]

  2. AtlTeacher Says:

    Great intro to Voice. I use it too and love it for these same reasons. Did you mention the recording tool?

    • Daniel Moix Says:

      I did not mention it in the post. It would fall under the documentation category, obviously. I tried it out a couple of times when I first got Voice, but I haven’t used it for anything. When you press the right key sequence it announces to all parties that call recording is on. You can either begin recording when you take the call or start it in the middle of the call.

      Thanks for the comment!


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