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Using Voicemail As a Teaching Tool


Q. What are some examples of creative and cost-effective uses of technology that teachers have developed?


Voicemail has been an increasingly important communication tool for schools, useful in emergency contacts such as school closing alerts, digital messaging, homework notification, and student and teacher absenteeism purposes.


But a small, private K-12 school in Baton Rouge, La., has found a unique, educational use for voicemail as well, that has helped in more ways than one.


Teachers at the Episcopal School there still do not have telephones in their classrooms. But the administration wanted to give them immediate access to their voicemail messages throughout the school day.


Previously, they had to wait in line in the teacher's lounge to check their phone messages, or a parent would have to go through the school secretary to get a message to a teacher. That wasn't the best communication procedure, especially since it interrupted the secretary throughout the day, and annoyed parents and others if there were urgent messages from parents or co-workers waiting for so many hours in the voice mailbox.


But having access to a telephone in the classroom could be disruptive.


Instead, the school used a unified messaging system called CallXpress, that allows any kind of messages - voice, email and fax - to be available, silently, on the teacher's classroom computer.


Now, a teacher can send homework immediately via fax or email to a parent who has just called in on behalf of a sick child, instead of waiting until the child returns to school or making the parent drive to the school to pick up the homework.


And the teacher can confirm a parent's messages throughout the day, such as authorization for their child to go home after school with another child.


Best of all, the school's foreign language teachers have found a unique application for CallXpress. Each language teacher is assigned 10 message boxes to record dialogue or vocabulary words for the students. The students can call the number, listen to the messages, and then respond with their answers by voicemail.


Since listening to words in a foreign language is a crucial way to learn that language, the use of voicemail is an intelligent innovation.


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By Susan Darst Williams Technology 06 2010

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