By Starr Sackstein, Journalism & English Teacher
Since there is never enough time in a school day, educators must be smart about their communications. Whether sharing feedback with students or collaborating with colleagues near or far, Voxer brings personality and convenience to quick communication.
When sharing feedback with students, it’s challenging to deal with critical matters through writing. The tone is hard to set and can be misinterpreted by students reading written comments on their work. Instead, using voice to deliver that important feedback, students can hear the intonation of my voice and understand that although critical, there is concern and compassion. This concern helps students hear feedback and internalize it without shutting down. Also, they have the opportunity to listen to it more than once, which can be helpful.
In addition to softening the sharing of difficult feedback, it no longer has to be a one-way street. Students are encouraged on Voxer to participate in a dialogue about their learning at their convenience. While reviewing their work and listening to the Voxes, students can continue to ask probing or clarifying questions that deepen their understanding of the feedback provided, which enhances the depth of growth.
This doesn’t only apply to teacher-to-student communications. Voxer is also a great tool for student collaboration when students aren’t in the same location at the same time. Consider how this can solve the group work problem for never having enough time at school or common schedules after school. Students can delegate work with ease and get the job done from multiple locations.
Voxer is a life-saver for an absent teacher too. Once, while home with my son, I was able to listen to student presentations as one of my students Voxed from the classroom. I was able to listen to the student discussion in real time and sent questions to the group using the text feature. Class went on without me being physically present and the learning never stopped. The added bonus: because it was recorded, I could review it again later.
Students aren’t the only ones who benefit from using Voxer. Teachers can work one-on-oneacross state or country lines to collaborate on ideas. Because Voxer can be used live or later, there is no time limit or time zone required. Teachers can share ideas when it works for them. The voice component makes it more personal than email or text, thus strengthening bonds with colleagues who have never met in person.
Recently, I wrote a book. Voxer was an integral part in creating and revising it. The daily communication with my editor wouldn’t have been possible without Voxer. Not to mention, the ability to replay messages, rewind or fast-forward or pause as needed. These features have saved me lots of time.
Voxer groups for educators are also popular. Imagine being on a conference call that offers text, photo and video components, in addition to voice. Educators can brainstorm ideas for projects, solve problems or innovate in their fields by sharing experiences at any time during the day.
If you haven’t tried Voxer yet, download the little orange app and join in on the fun and growth, just a beep beep away.
What do you love most about using Voxer? Please share.
Starr Sackstein works at World Journalism Preparatory School in Flushing, N.Y., as a high-school English and Journalism teacher. She is the author of Teaching Mythology Exposed: Helping Teachers Create Visionary Classroom Perspective and Blogging for Educators. She blogs for Education Week Teacher on “Work in Progress” in addition to her personal blog StarrSackstein.com. Sackstein co-moderates #jerdchat and #sunchat and contributes to #NYedChat. In speaking engagements, Sackstein speaks about blogging, journalism education, throwing out grades and BYOD, helping people see technology doesn’t have to be feared. Follow her @MsSackstein on Twitter.
Image: Starr with her class.