Digi Lit Sunday: A Virtual Book Club

Here’s a late post for DigiLit Sunday. A place to share our digital literacy learning hosted by Margaret Simon on her blog Reflections on the Teche.slide11

Last week I was at Bank Stree Books Store in New York City with teacher friends, Sally Donnelly, Allison Jackson and Fran McVeigh, and we all bought Cynthia Lord’s new book Handful of Stars.  We teach in different schools, in different states, but we share the same passion for reading and belief in our students.

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After my first day at the Summer Writing Institute, I wanted read this book as a club with my TCRWP colleagues. So I suggested a virtual book club. Immediately, the three and others in different states (who found out on Twitter) jumped on board. We plan to start the week of July 6th. If you’re interested in joining click here to add your name and contact info.

How might this “virtual” book club work? After a little discussion, Google Docs was thought to be the most universal in terms of access and knowledge base. Perhaps if the group is up for it, we can throw in a Twitter chat.

The question I’m pondering: Is there a better technology tool to make virtual book clubs more effective?

I’d been hearing about Voxer for awhile. I love Twitter and my blogging friends. Dare I open up another tool? Could it overwhelm and fracture my already splintered focus?

With encouragement from folks like Dr. Mary Howard and Jenn Hayhurst, I signed up.

Disclaimer: I have been using Voxer in a group chat for a short period, but I can see the potential value in it.  We have been discussing Jennifer Serravallo’s new book, The Reading Strategies Book. Voxer does provide something different. And that difference is the actual conversation.

The Pros:

  • Allows for spoken conversations. It acts as a walkie-talkie.  You push a button and talk.
  • You can choose to write your thoughts, and the text space is unlimited.
  • You can  add attachments, pictures and links,
  • When you are invited in for a chat, you are linked to all others in the chat.  The conversation is “heard” by all.
  • It’s happening 24/7, so like Twitter you can add into the conversation or check back at any time.
  • You can save comments by “starring” them.
  • It’s on your phone; you’re mobile!

The Cons:

The free version has limitations.

  • Limited data retention
  • Limited number of users in chat
  • No computer access, you must have a smartphone to use
  • You have to hold down the talk button to keep recording
  • It might get hard to follow conversation over time

I’m using the free version and have enjoyed using it. It is fun to hear comments and be unlimited by the number of characters you use if you choose to text. The real power of Voxer seems to be in using the record function. If you are going to write your responses, a Google doc might be a better way to go for a written conversation.

Try out a chat on Voxer with someone to get the feel of it. Then consider VoxerPro if it’s something you could see benefiting your team.

Personally I’m loving trying it out.

8 thoughts on “Digi Lit Sunday: A Virtual Book Club

  1. I’m excited about hanging out and talking about this book. I’m willing to give Voxer a try. Thanks for getting this idea going and growing.

  2. I’m participating in the Voxer group about The Reading Strategies Book, too. I’m really loving it. I like being able to hear everyone. I think having the audio has led our discussion into places that I’m not sure we would have gone if it were only written posts…maybe it’s easier to stay on one topic of focus when writing? not sure. As for holding down the button – you can change that in the free version. That’s what I have – if you click on the top right dots when you’re in the chat – you’ll see the Hold and Talk is ON – change to OFF, then you won’t have to hold the button down:) It seems like maybe you’d want to go to the Pro version if you’re the moderator of the chat. I think Voxer is the way to go – so easy and no real learning curve.

    I’d love to join your upcoming book club. I love Cynthia Lord and am wanting to read this book, too.

  3. I’m amazed at the tools that many of you use! I find myself purposely stepping away from technology in order to embrace life. Perhaps it’s because I have a steep learning curve, but I’m never bored with my online friends. Always something new I can learn, experience, and explore.

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