Remember the hype just before and during the launch of Google Wave on 30 September 2009? It was going to be revolutionary, change the way we work forever, and oh! to have an invite…
And then reality hit home. What can you actually do with it?
It was all a bit… meh. 🙁
Google certainly does love the ‘release early, release often’ mantra. That means, of course, that its offerings tend to get better as time goes on. And this is certainly true of Google Wave.
As you can see from the screenshot above, when you go to create a new wave you are given 6 templates from which to choose. Below is the ‘Task tracking’ option:
When you throw the extensions into the mix, you’ve got a very powerful collaborative tool. The iFrame gadget, in particular, is an extremely valuable option. I can imagine, for example, distributed teams using Google Wave for meetings. They’d use the meeting or brainstorm template, add the ‘Yes/No/Maybe’ gadget and the ‘Map’ gadget to organise a face-to-face meetup. There’s also several gadgets to turn Google Wave into the liveblogging app to end all liveblogging apps:
I’m going to be recommending Google Wave for meetings, project management and more over the next few weeks/months – both at work and for ‘extra-curricular’ activities. I’ll also be purchasing The Complete Guide to Google Waveby Gina Trapani’s, of Lifehacker fame. The book’s also freely available to read online – probably for a limited period only. 😀
There was a great presentation at the TeachMeet that accompanied the Scottish Learning Festival this year. Fearghal Kelly talked about his experiments with giving one of his classes more ownership over their learning. He ran them through the learning objectives and the content they would need to cover and then the student co-created and collaborated on planning what exactly they wanted to do.
Google Wave would be great for this as it allows wiki-like editing but is more threaded and conversation-like. The whole wave can also be ‘replayed’ to see how the thinking of the group evolved over time. It’s something I’d definitely be trying if I had a GCSE or AS/A2-level class… :-p
2. Student feedback
The most powerful learning experiences are those where students have ownership of their learning. That’s been dealt with above. But that’s of no use if students don’t know how to get better in a particular subject or discipline!
That’s why I think Google Wave could be used as an Assessment for Learning tool. Learning as a conversation could be shown in practice through having an individual wave for each student/teacher relationship. Alternatively, these could be small group and ability based to enable peer learning.
I can imagine waves being used for ongoing learning conversations once Google Wave becomes a feature of Google Apps for Education. I’ll certainly be experimenting with it for that purpose! 😀
3. Flattening the walls of the classroom
One of the really exciting things about Google Wave is the ‘bots’ you can add to automate processes. One of these bots allows for the automatic translation of text entered in one language into that of the recipient.
Whilst language teachers may be up in arms about the idea of ‘not needing’ to learn another’s language, I think it could be fantastic for removing barriers for worldwide collaboration. Imagine the power of students having the digital and wave-equivalent of ‘penpals’ in various classrooms around the world.