Many educators out there have been touting the merits of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter for connecting with fellow educators for promoting ongoing learning and development. I agree with them, and I’d like to add another app to the list: Voxer. It’s a free website as well as an app for iOS and Android and it will literally change your professional life.
Voxer is essentially a walkie-talkie where you can either listen to people talk in real time or hear their recorded messages later. Messages can be sent to individual people or multiple users can send messages back and forth in a group conversation. The result? You can listen to colleagues from around the globe asking questions, providing solutions, and offering support in real time.
I discovered Voxer a few months back after joining in on some Twitter chats with some fellow Minnesota educators. I was added to the group and at first I wasn’t sure if I liked it. Then I was added to another group that made me almost give up Voxer entirely – the group was huge and I couldn’t keep up with the messages! But then I found the #TOSAchat group and it has been the best thing that has happened to me as an educator!
The group is active, but they make it okay to come and go as you please. We use a hashtag system, which allows users to know the topic of the message so you can skip over it if it doesn’t apply to or interest you (this was me when some of them were talking about some standardized testing issues in California when I’m in Minnesota).
Just like Twitter, some people actively participate in the voice chats, while others prefer to listen and lurk. You can record voice messages or you can write text messages. You can like another person’s message and you can forward them to a variety of other apps to store them for later reference.
I take advantage of my commute time by listening to Voxer messages while I drive. Time that would normally be “wasted” in the car is now time I use to enhance my practice and connect with other educators. No other social media can do that! Others listen during breaks during the day, others at night during Twitter chats. Because you can listen to messages any time, you can hop in and out as you please.
Have a question? Throw out a message in the morning and you’ll likely have a response later that day. Just need to vent? Throw out an “edu-rant” and get support from like-minded colleagues. Want to celebrate a major “edu-win?” Share it with your pocket pals who will be more than happy to celebrate with you!
The friends I have made and connected with the past few months have literally changed my life. Being the only TOSA in my district can be a lonely life sometimes, but I know I’m not on my own because I have an entire network of fellow coaches in my phone who support and challenge me to grow every single day.
Your first step is installing the app and creating an account. Next, you need to find the right group. I have seen lists floating around Twitter of all kinds of groups around a variety of topics. Many times Twitter chats will also have a Voxer group on the side for continued discussion. If you’re having a having trouble finding a group, reach out to me on Twitter (@halversonandrea) and I will try to help you find a group that meets your needs.