When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, administrators, teachers, and students were forced to leave school buildings behind. Without access to their stationary phone system, it was challenging to stay connected via anything other than email. Even with Google Workspace for Education’s Gmail service, communication became a concern because of situations that required a more active response with a secure record of the conversation. Google Voice was the simple, smart, and scalable cloud-based phone solution that institutions sought for administrators and teachers to keep in contact with students and parents.
With school buildings reopening and teaching and learning transitioning back into the classroom, some may think that Google Voice can no longer benefit their stakeholders. However, Google Voice is as reliable and even more compliant than the desktop phones they are returning to post-pandemic.
1. Compliant communication
School leaders understand the importance of teachers, parents, and students building relationships, but are often concerned about the communication crossing appropriate boundaries. To mitigate this possibility, many institutions have implemented stricter guidelines that include a ban on electronic communication, particularly via phone, chat messages, and social media. Google Voice puts administrators at ease because it allows stakeholders to stay connected via a desktop phone, or cellular and computer devices without having to use their own personal phone numbers. Additionally, all text messages, voicemail audio and transcripts, and call logs are securely stored in Google Vault to be accessed at any time. With these features, teachers can call, text, and even video call their students and parents about assignments, wellness checks, and more, without violating compliance policies. This is necessary for creating a safe space and keeping the lines of communication open.
2. Parent-teacher conferences
Google Voice supports communications between teachers, parents, and students can make parent-teacher conferences more productive. Before the pandemic, a lot of institutions hosted parent-teacher conferences in-person or over their phone system within a set window of time. The goals of the conference could be impeded if the parent couldn’t attend the meeting due to a last-minute issue with transportation or time, or if there is no follow-up on the next steps for lack of a discussion record. With Google Voice, parent-teacher conferences can be arranged to accommodate parents’ schedules, and teachers can connect with them over the phone regardless of location or time using a compliant, domain assigned, phone number.
3. Communicative technology
Not only does it allow teachers, parents, and students to stay in contact without location and time being hindering factors, but Google Voice also makes it easier for staff to communicate with each other while on the move. Administrators who are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the school building are often equipped with cellular devices or walkie-talkies to use as they make their rounds. This equipment can be expensive, has to be replaced regularly, and in certain cases, may not have enough range to work properly. Google Voice can replace these tools because it can be used to communicate on a computer device and cellular device. Administrators performing teacher evaluations or monitoring hallways can rest assured that there will be no lapse in communication while away from their office because they can conveniently call and text other staff, students, and parents from their own cell phones without disclosing their phone numbers. Using this method also provides staff with intuitive technology. Instead of purchasing a portable device, something that they will have to learn, they can use their own device, which they will be more comfortable.
4. Emergency preparedness
Communicating with the academic community on the go is also important during emergency situations. There are plans in place to protect stakeholders during severe weather, fires, hostile intruders, and now national health crises. Administrators can remember the chaotic feeling of trying to keep teachers, students, and parents connected during the pandemic. Equipped only with the stationary phone systems left behind in the school buildings, institutions were challenged with finding a way to contact their community outside of email. Google Voice supported many schools in their continuity of learning mission, and, post-pandemic, can continue to keep them prepared for future unforeseen circumstances. Teachers don’t have to wonder if their hallways are secure, students don’t have to question if their parents know what is going on, and parents don’t have to worry about their student’s safety. In case of an emergency, Google Voice can provide real-time updates from portable devices as administrators organize evacuation or shelter-in-place protocols when they don’t have access to desktop phones, computers, and PA equipment, or when it is not safe to use them. This limits the need to have school leaders stay in one place when their presence is needed most and expands their ability to provide hands-on support around the building.
Though the world is reaching a resolution to COVID-19 and strives for a return to normalcy, academic institutions know that education will never be exactly the same and are still learning how to use technology to enhance success and security in their buildings.
After experiencing a gap in communication during the pandemic, over 50% of Google Workspace customers are currently looking for a cloud-based phone solution to prevent it from happening again. Google Voice is a valuable option for administrators and teachers to contact students and parents without having to share personal numbers whether teaching and learning are taking place in the building or at home. It is compatible with Google Workspace for Education, fitting seamlessly into its workflow, and puts stakeholders in control of their call logs, blocks scam calls with Google’s spam filtering, keeps a record of all communications in Google Vault, and allows for the management of the customized number assignments directly in the Admin console.
About the Author
|Eric Sizemore, Technical Account Manager|
|Eric serves as the Technology Account Manager for CDW Amplified for Education. Previously, he held the title of Director of Technology at two Oklahoma school districts and implemented Google Workspace for EDU at both organizations. He is passionate about education and believes that education is a great equalizer: no matter one’s disadvantage, education provides the opportunity for students to change their trajectory. In his spare time, he enjoys kayaking, having conversations over coffee, and screaming irrationally at the TV when college football is on.|