Looking for an internet voice mail app for students

May 22, 2008, 8:32 am

Sorry for the light blogging, but I’ve been trying to cram in a bunch of work this week so I can take next week completely off. (Summer classes start the week after that.) Today I’m prepping for my summer calculus course, and I have a question for the audience about a particular web service I need but can’t seem to find. 

The calculus class I am teaching this summer is in the evenings, and as far as I can tell all the students who are taking it are commuters. Normally, during the regular school year, I set up lots of office hours and have an open-door policy for students to come and get help when they need it. But since the class is in the evenings and I am staying at home with the kids during the day, and since the students won’t be on campus anyway except for my class, office hours are not really going to be the optimal way for students to get help. I’ll have office hours by appointment, but I can’t really be on campus for hours and hours each week. 

So I have email and IM available for students to use, but students aren’t always around a computer when they need help. But they are around phones all the time, so what I’d really like is to have some kind of voice mail service where students could call in their questions, and then I’d get to them when I could. Of course I have a phone at work, but like I said I am not going to be in the office much, and if they leave a voice message on that phone I may not get it until it’s too late — and we have no way of checking our voice mail off campus. (Or at least, I have no idea how to do it.) And I’m a little reluctant to give out my cell phone number to students, and really reluctant to give out our Vonage number we use at home, just because I’m kind of private and paranoid that way. 

What I am looking for is a service that: 

  • Lets students call in and leave a voice mail message on a server somewhere, which…
  • …I then listen to via the internet, and then…
  • …publish a response to the question via email or a return call. And, 
  • It needs to be cheap or free for me, and
  • Students should not need to sign up or register for anything — just dial a number on their phones and leave a message. 
I thought that Jott might do this, but I think only if every student signs up for a Jott account. I’m not opposed to that, but students might be, and it adds an additional layer of complexity. 
Anybody know of something out there that does all this? Surely the vast Web 2.0 application world has something that matches all these criteria, you’d think. 
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