Learning Technology jottings at Goldsmiths

Thoughts and deeds

Brief-ing: Google Wave, a collaboration environment with playback features

with one comment

“Wave is what email would look like if it were invented today”, says one of its developers. Google Wave intends to be a radical departure from previous web-based modes of communication and collaboration, in two ways:

  • Working collaboratively has hitherto involved dealing with the risk that, if more than one person is working on the same thing at the same time, the person who presses Save last will overwrite the work of the person who pressed Save before them.
  • Another problem is continuity and the flow of conversation which is ruptured in instant messaging where you type and then send, read, and then reply.

In a nutshell, Google Wave is a collaboration environment which allows you to see edits in real time, and – to me this is the particularly exciting bit – to replay the collaboration process and see how the work developed. What this means is a) that the barriers to latecomers are lessened and b) that the process – very important in education – of creating the work is available alongside the work itself. There is much more. It’s possible to connect out with other environments a great deal – e.g. the publishing of a Wave to a blog, and the feeding back of any blog comments back to the wave.

First impressions:


  • Luke Daffron points out some specific barriers to adoption in Higher Education and some possible solutions from Google
  • Cole Camplese, is “stunned and impressed”:

“The timing is amazing as well … just as we and so many others are entering into transitional periods with our LMS/CMS [VLEs, online portfolios etc] environments Wave has come along and shattered our notions of what it means to use the web as a platform to empower real time conversations. I know the traditional systems cannot catch up to something like this in time, it is quite frankly just too damn insane of an environment for them to latch onto. This isn’t like bolting a blogging platform to an existing code base, this is about rethinking the way we do things together face to face and online. It is about completely rethinking learning, teaching, authoring, sharing, collaborating, and so much more. I wonder if the rest of you feel as energized by the potential? From where I am sitting, this could be the start of what is next on so many levels.”

Ah, change. Our constant friend. ‘Wave’ is a good name for this.

Although institutions will be able to host their own Waves, there will be a lot of questions about ownership, privacy, accessibility and more. But all in all this sounds pretty exciting, no? I’m thinking, off the top of my head:

  • incentivising students to play an active role in group projects by being able to identify and acknowledge that role
  • being able to play-back a creative process. As well as promoting the formative activity of actually doing a draft rather than pulling an all-nighter just before the deadline, this is potentially a very powerful plagiarism deterrent measure.
  • The connectivity between messaging, blogs and different media, and the seamless flow of the communication promises to be very helpful in improving the Web’s power to represent what its users (increasingly, dwellers, I think) hope to represent.
  • In conversations, Wave is reported to make it easier to respond to particular parts of a message; it helps to make arguments more apposite and potentially deals with the current situation where participants are referring each other to “statements” way back up the discussion thread.

Will think some more.

Bonus link I haven’t watched – Google’s own Google Wave preview.


Written by Mira Vogel

June 3, 2009 at 12:38

One Response

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  1. Hey, thanks for the link.

    One note: “some solutions from Google” should probably just be something like “some possible solutions”.

    Google hasn’t announced developing any of those ideas. They might, but because Wave is fully extendable, anyone could solve those problems. Educational institutions, educational product vendors, grad students, and others could all build their own solutions to the problems I mentioned. I don’t think my post was clear on that, so I updated it a bit.

    Luke Daffron

    June 3, 2009 at 14:38

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