I recently started “voxing” with 9 other educators around the country. If you’re unfamiliar, voxing is when you use the free mobile app “Voxer” to participate in a “walkie-talkie-like” conversation with your friends and colleagues, only it’s more like a group text on your phone. The conversation is chronological, archived inside the app, allows you not only to use your voice, but to send pics and text where you choose
. The video below is taken from the Voxer Youtube page, and gives you an idea of how the app operates.
I’ve spent a lot of time on Twitter over the last 3+ years developing a personal learning network, and as I look across my timeline today, many of those profile pictures are much more than an image that spits out great resources and ideas each day – these people are friends, colleagues and folks I have built real relationships with. Truthfully, I consider my PLN an extension of my staff and my family. I find myself doing a lot less DMing (direct messaging) on Twitter and more voxing as of late. Being able to use my own words (beyond 140) and hear the tone, empathy, and extended articulation in the voices of others around the world helps me connect on a deeper level on a wide range of topics. The best part about it is that I can participate whenever is convenient for me, but can always go back and see what I missed.
Just in the last month, our Voxer group of edus have discussed 1:1, blended learning, school assemblies, homework, science fairs, cursive, discipline issues, graduation requirements, common core, teacher/leader burnout, social media to engage families and the community and probably 50 other areas of our daily work with students, staff & families. The truth is, voxing with those in your PLN is like creating, in real-time, your own personal podcast that you can decide who is involved, when you listen/respond and what topics you cover. For me, I do most of my voxing safely in the car on my morning and afternoon commute. I can see a lot of potential for school leadership teams, grade level teams, HSA-PTA-PTO teams and other educators trying to collaborate and communicate on a given topic while trying to respect everyone’s busy schedules. Emergency situations where you wish you had your walkie-talkie – another great spot to use Voxer to connect with colleagues who need to be aware. What if your principal provided you a verbal “vox” when walking out of your classrooms in lieu of waiting until the feedback form was provided to you. That verbal tone might mean a great deal to a teacher looking for immediate feedback from his or her lesson. One more quick idea: there are so many great education chats that occur weekly. Our #PTchat team of mods now “vox” during the week to discuss the upcoming chat and ideas for future chats. How does your moderating team communicate from week to week? How might we deepen these rich conversations beyond 140 characters?
Below, listen to a 10 minute vox from some of my colleagues around the country on how they are using Voxer in their own learning organizations as teachers, school principals and superintendents. The vox was used to kick off last week’s EdCamp Philly session that Billy Krakower and I led on “DM to Voxer.”
As easy as the tool has been to learn from others in education, I now use Voxer with my wife during the day, and other family members as it’s just nice to cut down on texting and hear the actual voice of those I care about. In the comments below, I invite you to share other ways you can see parents, teachers, students, school leaders using Voxer to communicate, collaborate, learn and share. Already voxing? Be sure to add your name to the growing #eduvoxers gDoc.
Special thanks to the original Voxer group of PLN pals who got me started on Voxer: Tom Whitford, Aaron Becker, Ben Gilpin, Jeff Zoul, Jimmy Casas, Joe Sanfelippo, Tom Murray, Curt Rees & Tony Sinanis.