Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Google Voice: an Extra {Free} Phone Number

I've written before about Google Voice, but updates from Google and a new school year means I probably need to write a new post! 

What is Google Voice?
In a nutshell, Google Voice allows you to call and/or text anyone from an extra, specially-designated phone number from Google...all the while, concealing your actual phone number from the recipient.

Here are some more handy features of Google Voice:
  • Call/text anyone through a browser on your computer
  • Call/text anyone through a mobile device connected to the Internet {without revealing your "real" phone number}
  • Call contacts that are already entered into your regular cell phone's address book {no need to enter information twice!}
  • Automatically transcribes voicemails and puts them in your Google Voice inbox
  • Listen to voicemails as they're being left
  • Screen calls if the need arises
  • Option to set "do not disturb" time {think of it like setting office hours}
  • Block specific callers
  • Ability to change the number 1 time {for a $10 fee} if the number gets into the wrong hands

Why would I use Google Voice?
You may be wondering why you even need an extra phone number. Think about those moments when you need to call a student's parent(s). Sometimes that parent's phone number is in a different area code, and you may not have the ability to make long-distance phone calls from your district desk phone. ...Or sometimes you have a lot of parent phone calls you need to make {like at the beginning of the school year when you make contact with each guardian to introduce yourself and say how excited you are about teaching their student this year}, but you don't necessarily want to be at school until 6 or 7 pm making phone calls. 

Google Voice gives you the ability to contact parents via call or text message right from your own cell phone, so you can contact anyone you want from the comfort of your own home -- without the risk of revealing your personal information to parents. {I know some teachers have no problem giving their personal cell phone number to parents, but I am a pretty private person, so revealing my cell number is outside my personal comfort zone.}

I'm interested. How do I start?
I created a fairly in-depth Google Doc with directions that can take you through all things Google Voice related. {It even has a Table of Contents where you can click the subject you're interested in learning about and jump directly to that section!} Click here to view the document.

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