Three specific tools come to mind that can link people together when face-to-face meetings aren’t an option: Voxer, Glide, and Google Hangouts.
Voxer is a walkie-talkie app that allows for voice only communication between two people or a group of up to fifteen people. Glide is an app with a similar concept, except it sends video messages instead of just voice messages. Google Hangouts allow for video calling in real time; you can have up to 10 people in a Hangout. You can also record a Hangout and publish it to YouTube for future viewing.
All three of these tools have amazing potential in education because of their ability to connect people anytime and anywhere. When people are connected, they can use these tools to foster relationships. They can also be vital tools for teaching, student learning, professional learning, and leadership.
Here are just a few ideas on how to build relationships using these digital tools:
I learned how to use these tools to grow relationships first hand. It all started when Jaime Vandergrift introduced me to Glide and wrote this post titled “When you can’t run, Glide” after we talked about the idea of using Glide to help support teachers. Then, she invited me to a Voxer chat with Stacia McFadden, Cat Flippen, Amy Pietrowski, and Rodney Turner. This chat turned out to be one of the most rewarding things I've ever done for professional development. What started out as professional conversations quickly evolved into sharing personal stories, which ultimately established true friendship among our group. Read our Voxer chat story here.
We recently discovered we were not alone after reading Joe Mazza’s post on how he uses Voxer, learning about the hashtag #eduvoxers, and this list of other educators who use Voxer. Join the growing group of educators who use this tool.
Connect with your PLN: Twitter is already the best place on the planet for learning, but when you throw in Voxer to expand conversations, you don’t just foster learning, you develop deeper relationships with people you may have never even met face-to-face.
Book Chats: Get a group together to discuss a professional book. You can use this idea with any of the three tools, but we have established a #voxerbookchat hashtag. So far, I have been a part of two book chats, and the conversation with people who are passionate about the topics and education is refreshing and rejuvenating! Join us for our book chat on Digital Leadership - if you are interested, let me know!
Build better relationships with your faculty or team as a leader. Eric Sheninger’s book Digital Leadership explains that one of the secrets to change is to "love your employees" - being intentional about developing relationships is a key factor of change. Sheninger also emphasizes the importance of leaders modeling the use of technology tools for their faculty. Using one of these digital tools to communicate with teachers could help them see the tool's potential.
Announcements: Use Google Hangouts to record your faculty announcements or Monday Memo and post to your blog instead of sending another email.
Meetings: Use a Voxer chat with your faculty to request agenda items for the next faculty meeting. Keep the conversation going after the meeting by posing additional questions or agenda items you couldn't discuss in person.
Observations: Use Voxer to provide a teacher a record of their feedback after a walk-through or informal observation, or better yet, schedule a follow-up discussion using Google Hangouts.
Increase Morale: Brighten a teacher’s day by sending encouraging Glide messages on a regular basis.
Follow Up: Use Voxer or Glide to follow up with people on tasks instead of checking in via email; they can respond much more quickly and provide more detail on their progress.
CONNECTING WITH STUDENTS
Adults in every student's life must earn the right to be heard and earn respect. Those two things come with teachers showing their students how much they truly care and about them. Meet your digital learners where they are comfortable and build relationships with them through digital tools.
Office Hours: Office hours are always open when you have students Vox you questions. You can answer as time allows. You can also set up a Google Hangout at a specific time for a study session with students.
Writing Feedback: In this great Teaching Channel video, Sarah Wessling explains how she uses podcasting to provide feedback to her students. Even easier than a podcast - use Voxer!
Book Clubs: As an English teacher, I always want my students reading more. To increase engagement or link students who are reading the same personal reading books, put students in book groups and allow them to connect about the book using Voxer. Or pose discussion questions for a group during your novel study. The possibilities are endless here and all you have to do is include yourself in the Voxer group to listen in to a group's conversation.
Foreign Language Lab: My school doesn't have a foreign language lab, and our French teacher is always looking for ways have her students hear themselves speaking French. Voxer, Glide, and Google Hangouts work perfectly here.
Try This Tomorrow! Use Voxer, Glide, and/or Google Hangouts to build connections in unexpected ways, and strengthen relationships, and learn from anywhere!
I would love to hear from you! Leave me a comment below and share more ways you have used these digital tools for leadership, student learning, or professional learning.