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Google Wave Will Revolutionize Online Classroom Instruction


Today is the day. Thousands of new users will be presented with the opportunity to get their hands on Google Wave.

What is Google Wave?
Google Wave is a brand new technology that positions itself  as the way Email would have been made if it were invented today. (Watch the 1:20:12 long video clip)

Imagine a combination between Email, IM, Twitter, Facebook, and Skype all bundled into one. Now imagine it being drag-and-drop easy, live-updated, and being constantly improved. Then throw on top of that an eager community of developers seeking ways to make it even easier to use and more powerful.

Cool, but what does it look like?
I haven’t gotten my invitation yet, but am eagerly awaiting one soon. Lifehacker has a great Google Wave First Look that they posted today. It has some really cool pictures that help you get a better idea of what’s going on. Back when it was announced on May 28th, Mashable posted Google Wave: A Complete Guide.

And how could it be used in my classroom?
Here are some of the uses I can see

  • Replace wikis
    I know a lot of teachers out there use wikis, and they are useful. I like the functionality that they pose, but I also know there are some challenges they have. One nice feature of Google Wave is that it allows a combination of public as well as private communication within a wave.
  • Playback
    Ever been absent during an extended group project? Wonder what you missed? The playback function of Google Wave is amazing in that it allows you to see step-by-step what has happened in the development of the wave. This can also come in handy for the teacher to see how well groups are working together and how much participation is going on.
  • Group work
    One of the huge advantages to Google Wave is that each person in the wave can edit things at the same time. We’ve all been in groups where one person writes, another person thinks, and the other people sleep. I also remember some group work on computers where so much time was wasted trying to find the right font. What if Font girl is responsible for making it look pretty, smart guy is responsible for doing research, and keyboarding goober is responsible for typing it all in? Everyone could be assigned a specific role and work on the same project together.
  • Teacher involvement
    The way I see it, each group would be set up by the teacher and each wave would include the teacher as well as the students in the group. One reason I didn’t like group work when I was in school was because I either did way more or way less work than the other people in the group. If an individual student has a complaint for the teacher, he can simply private message the teacher, explain the problem, and then the teacher can view the playback and see that the other students may not be working as hard. Tattling has never been this simple!
  • Publishing (Embedding)
    After a project is completed, it can be embedded into a website or Facebook group page or something. Yes, there are even plugins to embed waves into blog posts (at least for WordPress and Blogger).

So needless to say, I am excited about this new project and looking forward to seeing how I can use it both personally as well as in my teaching. It won’t be an overnight transformation, and I don’t see email being abolished completely, but I do see it as a pivotal point in the development of online communications.

How do others see Google Wave impacting education?
I thought I would do a quick blog search to see what other people are talking on this subject:

EDIT 10/03/09: This video was posted on Lifehacker yesterday:

Joel Wagner
Joel Wagner (<strong><a href="">@sywtt</a></strong>) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. <strong><a href="">So You Want To Teach?</a></strong> is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

5 thoughts on “Google Wave Will Revolutionize Online Classroom Instruction

  1. Thanks for the heads-up, sounds interesting. LOVE the group job titles! (font girl, smart guy & keyboarding goober) Gotta have graphics girl or guy too! (I’d like group work with people like that ;-)

  2. Hey, thanks so much for this. I had Google Wave on a rolodex card in my brain, but it was blank. I too can’t wait to use it. How the heck will I ever get an invitation. I can’t believe email was developed 40 years ago. I never had a lava lamp. I didn’t see email for the first time until 1993. I’m such a dinosaur.


  3. Just got the Wave invite but too busy with school work to explore it deeply but from what I can tell you are right on! As my son (who gave me the invite) was describing how it worked and showing his set up to me all I could think about was how to use the features with my coworkers at school. Can't wait to get moving on it!!

  4. I just received an invitation of Google Wave from a friend, and I was clueless on what it was about. But after reading your tips of using this tool in the classroom and watching the You Tube tutorial, I can see how this could be used as a tool for educators. As you stated it will not be an overnight transformation, and a lot of getting used to. As I continue to learn the world of technology, I hope that by the time I get used to it it does not become obsolete.

    – jth says

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