Anyone who knows me would tell you that I love new techie tools. I love trying new apps, extensions, or other web-based programs. Give me a little time with a new tool and the happy clicker in me will explore to figure it out. Once I play for a little while to see what the tool can do, I brainstorm ways that I can use it either personally or professionally at school.
Will it make my life easier in some way?
Will it intentionally serve a purpose in what we are trying to accomplish?
Is it just something fun to use once in awhile?
Inevitably, I find those tools that I fall in love with, using them daily in my personal and professional life. They are tools I cannot live without, always turning to them for a particular need. Many of those tools are for my job, such as any of the Google Apps for Education or social media apps. And one of these particular tools is Voxer, an app I cannot live without.
Voxer is a walkie-talkie app on my phone, but also a bookmarked site on my web browser. As a Pro user, I pay a small fee annually for this access on the web and the ability to set up admin control for chat groups. Through Voxer, I can talk with others, text others, share videos, pictures, and links to articles with others. We can talk in a private conversation, or we can set up groups to chat.
The beauty of this app is that I can access every part of the conversation when it is convenient for me, not missing a beat. Even if I am very busy on a particular day, I can pick up the conversation where I left off. I converse with other educators within my building and district, or throughout the country and world. The entire conversation, whether it is voice or text, is waiting for me when I am available to dig into it.
Voxer changed the game for me, not only with my PLN, but how I now use it with my staff. This game-changing app has launched remarkable conversations, but also provided a way for me to share personalized feedback to my staff.
Voxer & My PLN
I love being a connected educator, and I especially love my PLN. I have been on Twitter for a number of years, participating in chats, growing and learning from amazing educators around the world. However, it wasn’t until I used Voxer that I REALLY became connected. Through a few Voxer chat groups, such as LeadUpNow, I have truly built relationships with other connected educators throughout the country, talking and listening to them on a daily basis.
While I have not met many of them, I have gotten to know them through their stories, their celebrations, their pictures, their videos, their transparent conversations. I know their voices without them having to say who they are in the chat group. It truly is something special. This bond and connection would not have happened without connecting on Voxer. My PLN is my playlist in the morning as I get ready for school. They pump me up, make me smile, and give me so many amazing ideas, pushing me to become a better leader each and every day. My Voxer PLN is a positive, uplifting force in my daily life.
Voxer & My Staff’s Professional Growth
As I have learned how to use Voxer with my PLN, I have also learned fabulous ideas on how others have used Voxer with their staff, in particular using Voxer for book studies. Of course after taking part in one book study with my PLN through Voxer, I decided to give it a try. Last summer, I facilitated three book studies with my staff, venturing into online platforms to converse on the books. We only had two face-to-face meetings, with the rest of the conversation taking place through a blog I set up and through Voxer.
It was great to not just read responses to questions or ideas shared through the book studies, but to hear the voices of my staff share insights they gleaned from reading the books. This prompted a few on my staff to want to do this again this summer, informally chatting about a book we are reading together. There are not formal requirements for this book study, just conversation using Voxer. We are already digging in, excited to share and learn from one another throughout the summer months.
Voxer & My Notes
I cannot take credit for this idea, but I love it and have used it a couple times. Of course, I learned about this idea from my PLN on Voxer! In the app, there is a section called My Notes. Here, any user can record or jot down personal notes. I have used it a couple of times to remind me of a task or just talk through an idea I have in my head. I have even used My Notes to talk through an idea for a blog post!
But My Notes can also be used to send personal messages to my staff. I record a short message, then I can send that message to their email address. My staff does not need to have the Voxer app to listen to the messages; it will simply play through their email. Those personal touches have been a wonderful way for me to share how much I appreciate what they do or highlight a cool strategy I saw them use in their classroom. I hope to use this feature much more in the future.
Techie tools are fun and can be so useful in what we are trying to accomplish. Voxer is one of those great tools I use on a daily basis, changing how I interact with so many educators around the world.
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, Orange Steeler.