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    Home Education, Other Thoughts

    Using Voxer to Build Community

    July 29, 2015 by Brandy Vencel

    [dropcap]T[/dropcap]oday, I’m taking time off from talking about homeschool planning or The Liberal Arts Tradition to discuss a tool that I have found to be invaluable. I know we mentioned it briefly in our How to Start a Scholé Sisters Group workshop, but today I want to go into a little more depth.

    The free Voxer app: a super easy way to get and stay connected, and it works really well with the homeschool mom lifestyle.

    Some of you have told me that you just can’t find other local homeschool moms that are on the same page as you. I still insist that you continue to pray 🙂 — because it is a prayer that God answered for me years and years ago. But, with that said, you might find Voxer to be a uniquely valuable tool.

    Others of you might be like me. You’ve got a group, but it only meets once per month, and you’d like to see it be more than that — you’d like your interaction to be more regular.

     

    What is Voxer?

    Voxer is a push-to-talk live voice messaging service. I think it is completely fantastic. It was introduced to me by Mystie My Pretend Life Coach, which should come as no surprise since she’s the queen of useful tools. Voxer is an app that works on smart phones (both iPhones as well as Android phones), iPods (via WiFi — that is how I use it since I don’t have a smart phone). The app is free, but there is also a paid version that allows you to use it on a computer, or to use it with larger groups.

    It’s basically texting and walkie-talkies and voicemail all mixed up in the best sort of way. I am not a good texter, having only sent my first text in 2014, and I love that voice intonation can really help avoid all those misunderstandings from the lack of tone that is part and parcel of things like email and texting. So in Voxer, I can send a message as a text — or even a video or photo. But I can also send a voicemail message. It’s delivered as I’m sending it (as long as they have internet access), so my friends can listen to the message live, if they wish. If not, it’ll be there when they have time.

    Like when they are done changing diapers or making dinner.

    I have had so many conversations that would have died due to kid interruptions remain vibrant because, with Voxer, we can just come back to it later.

    Voxer allows for one-on-one or group conversations — up to 15 persons in a group for the free version.

     

    How Does Voxer Work?

    Voxer ScreenshotHere’s a screenshot from my iPod showing one of my ongoing conversations with Mystie. See the three buttons at the bottom? The one on the left is for attaching a photo or video. The one on the right is for a normal text message. The one in the middle is my fave — it’s for the walkie-talkie voice message. When that middle button is pressed down, it turns green, and that is how you know you are recording yourself.

    This image is of a private conversation. A group conversation would look basically the same, but have multiple people interacting. Conversations can have different names, so at the top where it has Mystie’s name, I like to name my different groups or topics so that it is easier to keep track of them all.

    One important thing for me has been that Voxer allows me, with an iPod, to send a message to friends and family that use Android devices.

     

    Building Community with Voxer

    I’m not suggesting that Voxer is or should be a substitute for real-life interaction, unless real-life interaction is simply not possible. For example, if the Scholé Sisters waited until we could see each other in real life to talk, we’d never talk. I guess what I mean is that we all still need people we meet with in real life.

    But a lot of us work virtually and need to build teams virtually, and I find Voxer to be really super helpful.

    I also find it to be a fantastic supplement to my real-life groups. For example, I have a group of wonderful women with whom I’m studying homeopathy. We have met in person many times — we actually took an entire course together — , but we can’t permanently add regular, scheduled study meetings to our busy lives. And so, we chat on Voxer. We talk about choosing remedies or what we’ve learned — it is a great way to keep up our knowledge base while not taking lots of time away from our families and other duties.

    I’ve planned events, park dates, and group meetings all on Voxer. Like I imagine texting is for some of you, I’ve found it to be a quick and easy way to throw an activity together.

    I’ve also used Voxer for book discussions with people who can’t meet in person. It works really well for this, and allows book club to be an ongoing thing, rather than a one-night-per-month thing.

     

    For Those of You Who Feel Alone

    I know that some of you are isolated — you live in the middle of nowhere, you’re a missionary on foreign soil, etc. Voxer is awesome for this. It’s no respecter of time zones or geography, and so your messages are delivered and waiting for your recipient when they’re available. I started Voxing with a long-time missionary friend recently, and it’s been a blast to hear her voice after so many years of reading each other’s words over emails or on forums and blogs.

    This is a way to connect with other homeschool moms in the trenches. Because it is a recorded conversation instead of a text, it doesn’t have to be super short and to the point — you can even pour your heart out if you need to. (And the ability to listen at x2, x3, or even x4 speed means your friends don’t actually have to spend as much time listening as you spent getting your words out.)

    If you’re looking for a tool that allows flexibility and interaction between iProducts and Android and that saves your messages for future review, Voxer is a good fit.

    When you have to walk away from a conversation because Johnny just let a wet dog in the house, it’s not a big deal because Voxer totally works for the life of a mom.

     

    Why I’m Writing All of This

    Goodness. This totally sounds salesy, which is weird. Let me explain a tiny bit.

    This week we had Stuff Happen. With the group messaging feature, I was able to get advice from a lot of people I trust in a really short amount of time. If I had had to call or write various people individually, it would never have happened. I would just have tried to take care of it all myself. But with Voxer, I could leave a three minute message telling my tale of woe, and in an hour I’d heard back from multiple friends. People were praying, giving advice, and I was oh so thankful.

    Sometimes, we just need to be able to reach out and connect with others — to lean on each other when things are bad or rejoice with each other when things are good. When I was growing up, a lot of our friends and family lived within walking distance of our house. But now, many of my church and homeschool community members live much farther than that. There is a sense in which Voxer has become my village well, my office water cooler.

    People say technology drives us apart, and I know that sometimes this is true. (I have said this many times myself.) But I’ve learned that it can be a useful tool as well.

     

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    17 Comments

  • Reply Tabitha Teeter September 11, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Do you still use this app or did Mystie get you on another one? I have some ladies that can’t physically make
    Book club and think this could be a fun option.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel September 11, 2017 at 2:39 pm

      Yes! We still use it every day and I still love it! ♥

  • Reply Kali July 30, 2016 at 7:15 am

    I just subscribed to the podcast last week. Excited for the new season!

  • Reply Phyllis August 7, 2015 at 6:24 am

    Any thoughts on how AO could use this? 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 7, 2015 at 9:29 am

      I have been thinking about this, Phyllis! I think it is a definite possibility for the AA, especially. I think in our situation, since we make so much use of the Forum — and I think it is best there for the most part because then everything is documented and can be looked back up later — that this would lend itself to hashing out specific projects when lots of details need to be worked out but not necessarily written down until the decision is finalized…

  • Reply Summer is for school, camping, and organizing - and reading, always » Simply Convivial August 6, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    […] day. Pam is getting ready to launch her new Your Morning Basket podcast in a few weeks, and so our Scholé Sisters conversations have often been descriptions of and reasonings for our various ways of doing […]

  • Reply Amber Vanderpol July 31, 2015 at 10:15 am

    I’m sorry to read that you’re having a rough week! That tool sounds great help though, thanks for posting about it. Now to find some friends who aren’t techno-phobes/late-adopters… seriously, I really need to expand my circle of people I know!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 31, 2015 at 10:19 am

      There is hope for late-adopters. I was definitely one. 🙂

  • Reply Amanda July 30, 2015 at 9:23 am

    This sounds great! Yes, fun with sisters or friends. so many options!

    Also, I’m sorry you had what sounds like maybe a difficult week. It’s great that you had this tool to help with communication!

  • Reply KarenG July 30, 2015 at 6:48 am

    Send me your contact info so I can test this out?

  • Reply HC... July 30, 2015 at 5:52 am

    I haven’t used it though, because I prefer texting-because somehow when I talk, I cant hear myself think!

  • Reply HC... July 30, 2015 at 5:49 am

    Doesn’t Whatsapp also have this feature?

  • Reply Nelleke from P.E.I. July 29, 2015 at 11:47 am

    This sounds great! I’d never heard of it before, but I think this would be fun to try out with my sisters, who all live far enough apart that we don’t visit often. I’m a bit nervous about all the negative reviews just in the last couple of days, though… maybe a recent update has been messing things up?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 29, 2015 at 12:41 pm

      Hm. Wasn’t aware of those! Mine has been working fine, but I am not a very big sample size. 🙂

  • Reply Melanie July 29, 2015 at 8:28 am

    This sounds really cool. I’m thinking my sisters and I could use it to talk instead of text! Thanks for the info!

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