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.


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.