This past weekend, I resolved to explore a technology I’d avoided because it had a cost associated with it–Voxer, and the corresponding opportunity to have education related “chats” using it. Being more of a writer than a speaker, I’ve always found the idea of writing preferable via 140 characters than Voxer. But, unfortunately, that leaves out a lot of folks who would prefer a medium where they can “talk through their ideas.” For about $30 a year, though, I’ve invested in Voxer and I’m curious how it might be used in a way that transcends the traditional podcast.

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Joe Mazza (@joe_mazza) first introduced me to this idea via this blog post, Connecting Educators through Voxer, and I’ve been curious about employing this tool with educators. Reluctant to require yet another app for educators to use, I’ve been giving serious thought to Texas-wide chats with CTOs and seeing how this can enliven some of our meetings in Area 20 in Texas (San Antonio, Texas and surrounding locales). Joe writes in his introductory blog post:

I recently started “voxing” with 9 other educators around the country. If you’re unfamiliar, voxing is when you use the free mobile app “Voxer” to participate in a “walkie-talkie-like” conversation with your friends and colleagues, only it’s more like a group text on your phone. The conversation is chronological, archived inside the app, allows you not only to use your voice, but to send pics and text where you choose

Joe goes on to describe what also attracts me to this opportunity:

Being able to use my own words (beyond 140) and hear the tone, empathy, and extended articulation in the voices of others around the world helps me connect on a deeper level on a wide range of topics. The best part about it is that I can participate whenever is convenient for me, but can always go back and see what I missed.

Also, consider this perspective:

We loved Voxer so much because we could hear each other. We heard passion, excitement, disappointment, frustration, a variety of feelings that are hard to translate through written word. Immediately, the dynamics of how we communicated and what we communicated evolved.
Within two weeks, our conversations morphed from mostly professional to highly personal. As we shared the highs and lows of our personal stories concerning our childhood, education, past jobs, relationships, parenting, etc., it gave us a clearer picture of the resilience and brilliance of one another. Source: Educators Use Voxer to Share Challenges and Victories Daily, Voxer Blog

As I look towards the future, I’d like to see a Texas educator Voxer chat get going focusing on how coaching and technology could work well together. I’m hopeful that folks like Dr. Dawn Wilson and Dr. Kate Alaniz–authors of a guidebook due out in April, 2015 on collegial coaching focused on technology, Naturalizing Digital Immigrants–might join in and share their ideas.

This guidebook details the process of collegial coaching for technology integration within educational environments and is intended for use within a variety of settings, from primary classrooms through high schools to graduate educational leadership and instructional technology courses and beyond.
What caught my attention is the concept of “collegial coaching” and its use in technology. Coaching has made quite a splash in certain circles, but I was personally dismayed at the lack of coaching-technology connections. 
Most coaching efforts are focused on instruction that is totally devoid of technology use. Again, educational technologists are left out the loop, forced to blend technology into initiatives that they are rank beginners in. It’s probably the same kind of challenge that teachers who only “know pedagogy” face when trying to blend technology. It can be a lonely journey and coaching and technology must go together.

Wouldn’t it be powerful to start a Texas VoxerChat focused on #edtechcoach ? In their unpublished manuscript, Dr. Wilson and Dr. Alaniz share the following piece of information:

Coaching is described as “the process where teams of teachers regularly observe one another and provide support, companionship, feedback, and assistance” (Valencia and Killion (1988)). The coaching process must “ultimately serve to build communities of teachers who continually engage in the study of their craft” (Showers, 1985).

Wouldn’t this be a likely connection for technologies like Voxer that allow educators to provide support, companionship, feedback and assistance?

I’d like to see Texas educators build a community of teachers who continually engage in the study of their craft…perhaps, these groups exists, but they may be splintered or inaccessible. That’s why it’s probably important to make a connection to professional organizations like TCEA’s TEC-SIG, Texas CTO Council, and others.

What do you think?


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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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