With eLearning, it is important that a teacher is available to all students. Therefore, it is important that there are multiple avenues by which you can be contacted if necessary. Not all students have Internet access. Not all families know how to connect a school issued device to Wi-Fi. However, the majority do know how to make a phone call. If they do not have a phone, they can at least find a way to make a phone call.
With all that said, Google Voice is a free service that can be accessed from: http://www.google.com/voice. However, I'm not for certain it is available on organizational accounts (school email addresses). I discussed it with my technology department, and they did not see a place to add it to our accounts. Since that is the case, I am using a personal gmail account that is also signed into Chrome. (Here is how to have both your organization account and personal account on Chrome at the same time.) The service does email you to notify you that there are voicemails/texts in your account. If using an exisiting personal gmail account is a concern, you could create a separate one for the purpose of a Google Voice account.
Here are some advantages of using Google Voice:
- Hides your real phone number
- One can set it to call into all your phones
- Have the option to deny a phone call as the caller must provide their identity
- Can call from a computer
- Has an app on iOS and Android
- Will work with home phone numbers
- Transcribes voicemail messages
If you are interested, here is a guide for the setup and use of Google Voice: