Disclosure: Volley is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com
At the end of 2021 an old friend from the early days of Free Technology for Teachers introduced me to a new conversation platform called Volley. I liked it so much that I included Volley in my Best of the Web 2021 webinar. So now that you know I’m excited about it, let’s take a look at what Volley is and how it can be used in school settings.
What is it?
In my webinar last month I described Volley as “Flipgrid meets Slack.” But that description doesn’t accurately convey all that Volley does.
At its core Volley is a mobile and desktop application for video messaging with members of a group. However, those who are camera shy can use Volley without turning on their cameras. You can use Volley to record and share screencasts without turning on your camera. Additionally, Volley offers options for audio and text messaging. And if you’d like to have a conversation about a document, you can share the file with others in your group. To add a little fun to your Volley conversations, use the library of GIFs to interact with members of your Volley groups.
One of the features of Volley that I really appreciate is that a written transcript is automatically generated for every video and audio message. The transcript is great for making the conversation accessible to those who have difficulty hearing what is being said in a Volley conversation.
How does it work?
To get started using Volley you need to install it on your mobile device (iOS or Android) or on your computer (Windows or Mac). Once you’ve installed the app, sign in and you’ll be welcomed with a video introduction from Volley’s CEO, Josh Little. You can reply to Josh with a video or audio message, if you’d like.
You can organize conversations on Volley into spaces. A space allows you to gather people together in one place. Within a space you can create channels (which are open and discoverable) and conversations (which are private and invite-only). You can create as many spaces and invite as many people as you want. By default you’ll have a space named after you (mine is Richard’s Space and you can join it here) and you can create as many additional spaces as you want. In short, think of spaces in Volley as classrooms or groups. Channels are conversations within a Volley space. For example, I created a Volley space for my Junk-free January challenge and within that space I created three channels; daily support, random, and welcome.
Watch this short video to see how Volley works.
How can it be used in educational settings?
The education page on Volley’s website suggests a handful of ways that one might use Volley for educational purposes. Before I even saw that page I thought that Volley could be great for extending classroom conversations and for providing a support or an academic help forum for classes.
A “continuing classroom discussion” channel in your classroom Volley space could be great for giving students the opportunity to participate in discussions even if they weren’t present in class. Additionally, students who didn’t get enough time to talk during a class discussion would benefit from being able to share more of their thoughts. You could also use this channel as a place to post exit ticket prompts for your students to respond to. Here’s a list of some of my favorite exit ticket prompts.
In this short video I demonstrate how to create academic help and continuing classroom discussion channels in a Volley classroom space.
In the context of professional development, Volley could be a great solution for schools. Tech coaches and instructional coaches can use Volley to create online spaces in which faculty members can ask questions and participate in discussions about best practices for using technology in their classrooms.
Here’s a little video I made to show how I’d set up a Volley space for professional development.
Another way to think about using Volley for professional development is to have a principal or other school leader could create a Volley space for staff. Then within that space create channels according to grade level, subject area, or any other criteria for professional learning communities. Teachers can then share what’s working in their classrooms or ask for advice in an area they need help with (I’d stay away from discussing specific students). You might even just have a “random” or “fun” channel for team building.
For high school, college, and professional learning settings, Volley has a ton of potential for good. I’m excited to see more teachers use it. And if you just want to try it yourself before inviting your class or colleagues, join me on Volley and ask me a question or just say hello.