While we are familiar with the basic voicemail systems on cell phones and landlines, they are often limited. In the web2.0 world there has emerged new and FREE uber-voicemail systems. Some examples include Grand Central, YouMail, and Amphibian. These mail systems allow for the following;
1) By passing the caller and going right to voicemail.
2) Creating custom greetings for individual callers or groups of callers
3) Being able to send text message feedback directly to the caller
4) Documenting all voicemails as an MP3 file
5) Transcription of voicemails right to your cell phone as a text message file minutes after the voicemail is left.
6) Searchable voicemail messages
7) Caller ID (even from cell phones!)...
8) The ability to reply in text or audio to voicemail messages on the web directly to cell phones and/or email account of the caller.
9) A private phone number (so you don't have to give out your real cell phone number)
10) A private phone number that will ring as many phones as you wish (cell, landline...)
11) Call Recording on the Fly
So how does web2.0 voicemail help teachers?
Here are just a few ways (at least these are ways that my YouMail and Grand Central accounts have helped me with my own students)
Transcription of VoiceMail
Since YouMail and Grand Central both send me a transcribed text message of every voicemail left on my account, I no longer need to call my voicemail to find out who called and the message that they left. I also have a transciption of numbers left in my voicemail (instead of having to remember them as I listen to the message). This can also be a very nice feature for hearing impaired students to be able to participate in voicemail services.
MP3 files of every voicemail, the "by pass" feature right to voicemail (so my phone does not ring), & custom greetings.
Every message left in my voicemail is automatically stored on my YouMail account online as an MP3 file. While this is helpful for documentating phone calls (espeically from students and parents), but it is a great feature for oral quizzes. Students can call in to the YouMail account, listen to the unique custom greeting that I set up, and they can "speak" their quiz. The quiz is then stored in my YouMail account (I can listen through my mobile phone and send a text message or voicemail evaluation back the student OR I can listen online at my YouMail.com account and send the text message or voicemail feedback to the student through this account). Since these are private calls, the quizzes are kept private...but I get to keep the MP3 files as a record of the student's progress over the school year. I can even sort my YouMail account so that I can look at all of one individual studnet's oral quizzes at one time.
I can send out messages to groups of my students or parents at anytime. In my Youmail.com account I can send out reminders about upcoming assignments or ask them to call in an oral quiz.
Private Phone Numbers
Grand Central gives out a private phone number, so teachers do not have to give out their real cell phone number to their students. Instead they hand out the private number. This is a nice feature because you can set the number to go directly to voicemail (great for oral quizzes...no ringing or buzzing on your cell phone while student's are taking their quizzes). In addition, you can set the number to ring on any phone you wish, so you could set up a student helpline which rotates each week between the students (just change the phone that rings with the private number each week to a different student's phone).
Call Recording On the Fly
Grand Central also has a call recording feature (is this legal???). This is great when you have a difficult conversation with a parent, studnet, or community member and want to make sure that it is documented. You can even start the recording in the middle of the conversation. It becomes an MP3 file in your private Grand Central account!
Something Similar: Slydial
Slydial allows for by passing the caller and going straight to voicemail. It can work with any mobile phone or landline. This is helpful for students who are taking oral quizzes where teachers have YouMail accounts and they want to go right to the voicemail to speak their quiz. Here is how it works...
1) Dial 267-SLYDIAL (267-759-3425) from any landline or mobile phone.
2) At the voice prompt, enter the U.S. mobile phone number of the person you want to slydial.
3) You will be directly connected to their voicemail. Leave them a voicemail.
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